There’s no doubt that Brad Stevens and the Celtics coaching staff will take a good, hard look at the footage (also: carnage) from Tuesday’s blowout loss in Atlanta.
They’ll cut up the plays and go over things with their players.
But the one thing they won’t take with them back to Boston is the painful feeling that they were undoubtedly feeling as the minutes ticked away in the fourth quarter while they were down 20-plus, and even 30-plus points.
As it has been all season long, it’s on to the next one.
And this next one is the most important game of their season. It is their season.
“This game is over,” Marcus Smart told reporters. “We’re going back to our place. It’s time to fight.”
The Celtics have put up a much better fight at home, where they went 28-13 in the regular season and at one point won 14 straight home games. They also beat the Hawks in both of their playoff home games, staging a 16-point comeback in Game 4 to even up the series. A home-cooked meal and 18,000-plus fans on your side is nice, but Brad Stevens knows it’s going to come down to execution.
“I think the results thus far have certainly indicated its importance but doesn’t mean anything on Thursday night unless you play well,” Stevens told reporters. “I think you have to play well. It’s more about how you’re playing. [The Hawks] played great tonight. If we play like that and they play the way we played, home court advantage won’t mean as much. So it’s about how you play and it’s about how you come out and everything else and hopefully sustaining that.”
The Celtics have come back from big deficits all season long. Their biggest deficit is right now, trailing 3-2 in the series with their playoff lives at stake.
For that reason, it’s a win or go home mentality going into Thursday.
“We better or we’ll be at home. So it’s do or die,” Thomas told reporters. “We gotta win that game. My guys will be ready. We’ll be ready.”