After two straight losses, the Boston Celtics trail the Golden State Warriors 3-2 in the 2022 NBA Finals, and find themselves in a serious predicament. In the 30 previous times that the Finals were tied 2-2, the team that won Game 5 has gone on to win the series 73.3 percent of the time.
The odds are seriously stacked against the Celtics, but no one in the locker room is giving up. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, multiple players expressed belief that they can still come back to win the title.
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“We’re looking forward to the challenge. We got to embrace it. Ain’t no other way around it. Last game on our home floor to kind of embody our whole season. We’re looking to give it everything we got. We are not scared. We do not fear the Golden State Warriors. We want to come out and play the best version of basketball that we can.”
You wouldn’t expect the Celtics to say anything else, but their confidence carries a bit more weight when they’ve come back from similar deficits already in the playoffs. Down 3-2 to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round after collapsing in Game 5 at home, they won two straight games to stave off elimination. In the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, they were down 2-1, came back to take a 3-2 lead, blew Game 6 at home and then went on the road to win Game 7.
“It’s the first to four,” Jayson Tatum said. “It’s not over with. So as long as it’s not over with, you got a chance. I think having done it before should give you even more confidence that you can. Not that it’s going to be easy or it’s going to be given to us, but you should be extremely confident as long as you got a chance. We got a chance tomorrow.”
Just a few days ago, the Celtics were up 2-1 in this series and the favorites to win it all. It’s clear, despite the current situation, that they have the talent and ability to complete a comeback. But to do so, they’ll need to be much better than they have been the last two games.
That starts with being more composed, taking care of the ball and playing a full 48 minutes. They turned it over 18 times in their Game 6 loss, and the Warriors’ 103 points off turnovers are the most by any team through the first five games of a Finals since 1992. In addition, the Celtics have been outscored by 18 points in the last two fourth quarters. Those kind of letdowns just won’t cut it against a great team like the Warriors.
“We’ve been in positions of pressure games like this before,” Al Horford said. “Obviously, never in a Finals, to your point, but I do believe that the way that this team is, just too much fight. There’s too much fight. There are guys that are just competitive, guys that want to compete.
“I’m confident with our guys. I’m confident that they’ll come out and that we will respond.”