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Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum talks with Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics against the Miami Heat during Game 5 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Even after two consecutive wins, there’s no denying the Celtics have played some truly ugly basketball in this Eastern Conference Finals. After getting blown out 128-102 in Game 3 to fall down 3-0 in the series, many were quick to count the Celtics out. It turns out, that may have been exactly what they needed.

With a 110-97 win over the Heat on Thursday night, the Celtics now trail just 3-2 in the series with momentum on their side as they try to become the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-0 series deficit. According to Jayson Tatum, that doubt after Game 3 has helped them reach this point.

  • Game 3 – that was as low as you can be. The good part about being that low is you only can play better. It’s only up from there,” Tatum explained when asked after Game 5 how the team’s on-court demeanor has changed so suddenly. “I think part of it was just being down 3-0 – you understand how that’s never been done. All to talk about that, it kind of gave us a sense of just like ‘everybody’s count us out. We supposed to be done,’ And I think we started to play a little bit more free, relaxed.”

    “Obviously our defense intensity, being connected on the defensive end, that showed these last two games. And then offensively, I think guys are just relaxed. Really just taking it one one game at a time, knowing that we have this uphill battle to overcome,” Tatum continued. “But I really feel like guys have just kind of taken a deep breath. We were – in that locker room after Game 3 was the lowest you could be, and I think everybody just kind of relaxed, honestly.”

  • Granted, counting on the worst to happen in order to play your best is not a sustainable formula for a championship team. That’s something Tatum acknowledged as well.

    “For some odd reason, even last year, we always seem to make it a little bit tougher on ourselves,” he said. “But what I do know is that you can see the true character of a person, of a team, when things aren’t going well. And our ability to come together, figure things out, when it’s not necessarily looking good for us, it’s unlike any team I’ve been on.”

    In Game 6, the Celtics will have to keep up their recent level of intensity while not being as counted out as they’ve been for the past few days. After the Game 5 win, the external narrative seems to be shifting away from the Celtics falling into a 3-0 hole, to the Heat potentially blowing a 3-0 lead.

    For that to happen though, the Celtics still need to win two more games in a row. The first of those two games is Game 6 in Miami on Saturday night. Coverage of that game can be heard starting with pregame at 8 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Sports Hub BetMGM Celtics Radio Network.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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