Even though Boston lost this Sunday’s Game 4 of the series against Philadelphia, the team feels inspired after their late comeback in the fourth quarter that took the match all the way into overtime.
The Celtics were losing by 16 points and tied the match right before the final buzzer, despite losing in the end 116-115 after extra time was given. Most players felt encouraged after the game, especially by the way they dominated in clutch stages.
The squad from Massachussetts seemed to wake up after this pep talk by coach Joe Mazzulla:
If you come to think of it, Boston might of even deserved the victory if it wasn’t for an inspired James Harden who fought back with two fundamental shots, one a game-tying jumper and finally a game-winning three pointer with only 19 seconds to the clock.
“I felt like our group did a great job in the fourth, locking in, defensively, everybody taking the challenge, trying to be better,” Celtic’s Al Horford said, after he blocked three essential attempts by MVP Joel Embiid.
“That was quite a comeback, and then we were really close. So I’m pretty encouraged with our group and with the focus that we played. We knew we were going to get their best shot today. And they put it out there. We were able to withstand it and just weren’t able to close the game. But I’m pretty proud of our group and how we responded today,” he added.
Coach Mazzulla also didn’t seem too disappointed after the contest, as he considered it as “just a great playoff basketball game.”
“Making plays on both ends of the floor, defending without fouling, forcing them into some tough shots, getting out into transition, making plays – I loved our mindset, really, throughout the entire game,” Mazzulla said. “Talk about managing our expectations; it’s exactly what we expected.
“To get a great punch in the game from them, and then any time you’re in a possession game like that, it comes down to who makes the most plays at the end.”
Both Smart and Tatum also played major roles in their second-half comeback, and hope to continue it into Game 5
Marcus Smart hit 13 of his 21 points during the fourth quarter and overtime, as he dropped in a pair of three-pointers that were pivotal in the last quarter.
“It was a dog fight,” said Smart. “We were down and we continued to fight our way back and that’s all you can ask for.”
Jayson Tatum, on the other hand, ended the match with a historic stat line of 24 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks, becoming only the fifth player in NBA history to reach those marks in postseason, including Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
“He didn’t let the fact that he wasn’t scoring affect his defense and his mindset,” Mazzulla said about his star player. “I thought his presence was great, and I thought he chipped away. I thought the whole team did.”
Antonio is a life long sports enthusiast and professional journalist, who shares an obssesive urge to find and dig up the most interesting facts to guide gamblers towards more exciting, yet safe bets. In his own words, ''you can never really know enough about the things you love''.