Celtics' history of closing in on closing out playoff series

Celtics' history of closing in on closing out playoff series

INDIANAPOLIS -- There was no bottle poppin’ or celebratory cups of water dousing Celtics players after their 104-96 win over Indiana on Friday night, a victory that gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead. 

Kyrie Irving knew how excited his teammates were about the win, but he had little choice but to hit them all with a splash of reality shortly after gathering together after the game. 

“I told these guys when we got in the locker room, the hardest game of the series is the closeout game, especially on the road,” Irving recalled. “We know what’s at stake. We know the amount of pressure they’re putting on themselves and we know the amount of pressure we’re going to put on ourselves to play great.”

This is the second consecutive postseason run for the Celtics that has included at least one crack at sweeping a series. 

Last year, the Celtics won the first three games against Philadelphia in the second round of the playoffs, dropped Game 4 in Philly only to return to the TD Garden and close it out in five games. 

As cool as it might be to end this series at home, this group seems locked into closing this series out as soon as they can to claim the franchise’s first sweep since 2011.

“We’re not settling for going home; we want to win here,” Celtics forward Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “We want to get some rest, kick our feet up for the next round.”

That sweep in 2011 came in the first round against the New York Knicks and was only the fifth sweep of a best-of-seven series in franchise history and only the 11th sweep overall.

And while all the talk about a sweep can’t be ignored, the Celtics are focusing their thoughts on Sunday being the first close-out game of the series, which in itself poses a tremendous challenge for teams. 

Historically, the Celtics have not been great in Game 4s when they've jumped out to a 3-0 lead, which is evident by their 5-8 record in such games. 

But the big thing about this Pacers series has been how Indiana’s consistently high effort level has forced Boston to play more connected in order to win. 

And just like the first three games, the Celtics are well aware of that challenge and how important it is to winning on Sunday and in doing so, closing out this series. ?

“They’ve played hard all three games,” said Jaylen Brown, who led all scorers in Game 3 with 23 points. “We’ve matched their intensity but Game 4 we expect it to be taken to another level. So we have to come out and not take our foot off the gas; come out and still play some great basketball at a high level and close this thing out.”

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Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

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The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

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Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

The NBA season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait until mid-April at the earliest to watch the Boston Celtics again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Celtics action, we'll be using the NBA 2K20 video game to simulate each game on the schedule until they finally return.


The Celtics were supposed to be taking on the Miami Heat on Wednesday in an Eastern Conference showdown. Here's how our simulation of the marquee matchup went:


If you've been paying any sort of attention to these simulations the past couple of weeks, you've noticed that Kemba Walker has been on an absolute tear offensively. That didn't change Wednesday, as he dropped a game-high 32 points to lead the way in the C's blowout win.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a.k.a. "Fire and Ice," continued their strong offensive output with 27 and 21 points respectively. Tatum was a force on the defensive end as well, notching nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

With the game in hand, Boston's reserves played for nearly the entire fourth quarter. Brad Wanamaker and Vincent Poirier tallied seven points each off the bench.


Four Heat players scored in double figures, but it still wasn't enough to keep up with the Celtics. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 21 points, though he struggled from the field going just 7-for-21 shooting. Kendrick Nunn was far more efficient, going 6-for-13 and finishing with 19.


This game really wasn't close at any point, and in these sims, the C's have established themselves as the clear superior Eastern Conference squad. The biggest takeaways from the list of stats above are Boston's defensive prowess (12 steals, seven blocks), and dominance in the paint (54 points).

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 119, Heat 98

Make that nine wins in a row for the unstoppable NBA 2K Celtics. Can they keep it going? Tune in Friday for their next matchup vs. the Orlando Magic and find out.