To say the odds are stacked against the Boston Celtics would be an understatement.
NBA teams trailing 3-1 in a playoff series have come back to win just 13 times in 244 opportunities, meaning the Celtics have a roughly 5% chance of toppling the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals after falling into a 3-1 hole.
Boston didn't play nearly well enough in Game 4 on Wednesday to suggest it will become the 14th team to pull off such a comeback.
But Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge apparently isn't concerned with those bleak numbers.
"I’m not panicking," Ainge told The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach in a phone interview Thursday. “I really believe in these guys and I think that they’re showing some great moments, and we just need to be able to sustain it longer."
Ainge admitted earlier in the day he was "very frustrated" by Boston's sloppy play in Game 4, which saw the Celtics commit 19 turnovers in a 112-109 loss.
The C's boss saw a silver lining in defeat, however, as his team played far from its best basketball yet still lost by just one possession.
“From what I’ve seen of them in the Toronto series and Philadelphia series, and all year long, and even from previous years in the playoffs and just watching their maturity,” Ainge said. “I feel like our best basketball is ahead of us."
That's an optimistic statement from someone whose team is 48 minutes away from a postseason exit. The Celtics will need to play consistent, mistake-free basketball in three consecutive games to defeat a mentally tough Heat squad that so far has outworked Brad Stevens' group in this series.
With Gordon Hayward back in the lineup after missing a month due to an ankle injury, Ainge still believes that's possible.
"Hopefully we win a Game 5, and maybe by Game 6 or 7 we see the best Gordon, or a much better Gordon still,” Ainge said.
"That’s why I feel like we’re getting better. We’re not getting worse. Hopefully we can just win Friday night.”