BOSTON – We have seen the Boston Celtics rally back from 26-points down to beat Miami, get a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on the road to beat Cleveland in addition to snapping Golden State’s NBA-record 54 game winning streak at home despite losing their two previous road games out West and getting the signature win over the Warriors without Jae Crowder who had missed eight of the previous nine games due to injury.
We have seen the Celtics thrive in situations where their resiliency has been put to the test.
But those moments don’t compare to what the Celtics are facing now as they shift all their attention and effort towards winning Game 3 at home after dropping the first two games in Atlanta.
“We just have to have a backs against the wall mentality,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “This team has been good and been resilient all year in that regard. Our focus needs to be to continue to play the right way on both ends of the court.
Stevens added, “We need to start better, we need to play better, we need to do a lot of things better. I never questioned this group’s resiliency or willingness to stand up when times are tough. They’ve been pretty good about that all year.”
Isaiah Thomas said the Celtics’ resiliency stems from the often rocky road that most of his teammates have had to take in order to get to the NBA.
“We’ve always had a never back down mentality,” Thomas said. “Everybody in this group, my group of teammates, always been counted out. So I think they’ve always had that chip on their shoulder to where they have to prove people wrong. So that’s just another stepping stone in everybody’s story. We do have to climb an uphill battle, but at the same time we need to take advantage of our home court and take it one game at a time.”
But bouncing back and into this series will challenge this group of Celtics in ways that they have not experienced before.
They face an Atlanta Hawks team whose defense has been off the charts in the first two games of this series. This has been particularly problematic for the Celtics at the start of games.
In the first quarter of Games 1 and 2, Boston’s offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) was 71.0 and 27.0, respectively.
The Celtics have also shot less than 40 percent in each game.
But even with their struggles and facing a 2-0 series deficit, the Celtics are coming into tonight’s game expecting to get a victory.
“You go into every game with that mindset, what do you need to do in order to be successful against that team,” Stevens said. “We had some really good moments in those games. We have to bottle them up. We can’t play the way we’ve played and be successful. We have to play more consistently throughout the game than we played. We have to play 48 minutes better than we have to have a chance.”