The Boston Celtics came into the Eastern Conference Finals as significant favorites. They were widely expected to beat the Miami Heat and get back to the NBA Finals. Needless to say, the series hasn’t gone as many expected. The Heat won Games 1 and 2 on the road, and then blew out the Celtics in Game 3. Finally, down 3-0, the Celtics at last showed some heart and fight. After losing by 26 in Game 3, the Celtics dominated last night, winning by 17. They were actually down at halftime, but took over the game in the 2nd half. Jayson Tatum led the way with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists.
So now that they avoided the sweep, the question becomes: can they still win this series? There’s no historical precedent for this. No NBA team has ever won the series when down 3-0. In fact, only 3 teams have ever forced a Game 7 after being down 3-0. However, you can make the argument that this is exactly how a team would come back from being down 3-0. The Celtics have 2 more home games in this series. No one would argue that the Celtics aren’t the better team. We saw that over the course of the regular season. And if they force a Game 6, the pressure suddenly goes to Miami. They’ll be thinking “one more loss and we’re in a Game 7.” That can be a lot of pressure for a team. When you consider that the Heat consist of one great player, a great head coach, and a bunch of regular players, you can talk yourself into the Celtics clawing their way back into this thing.
Of course, the Celtics still have a long way to go. They already lost twice at home in this series alone. They are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to coaching. And the Celtics will need consistent contributions every night from role players, which is a lot to ask for in the playoffs.
At the end of the day, this is what sports are about. One win, and the Celtics can suddenly dream about a historic comeback. Game 5 is going to be electric.