NBA: ‘It’s not over’ as Celtics lean on experience ahead of elimination game

 Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics reacts after getting a technical foul during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 13, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP 

The Celtics said the experience they gained from winning three elimination games during the playoffs has prepared them to do it again in Game Six of the Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Boston on Thursday.

With their backs against the wall, the Celtics were victorious in two win-or-go-home games against the Bucks and a Game Seven against the Heat that punched their ticket to the Finals.

Golden State, meanwhile, were blown out in their two road close-out opportunities this postseason.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Celtics forward Grant Williams told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s one of those things where you embrace it. It’s exciting. It’s what you live for really.”

Trailing the Warriors 3-2, Boston will likely need a big night from forward Jayson Tatum, who has been at times brilliant but also vanished during key stretches of the series.

“It’s not over with,” Tatum said.

“I think having done it before should give you even more confidence that you can. Not that it’s going to be easy or it’s going to be given to us, but you should be extremely confident as long as you got a chance. We got a chance tomorrow.”

Tatum said he felt no need to give a “hero speech” to motivate his team.

“We know what’s at stake,” he said.

“Everybody in that locker room should and is going to understand what we got to do, what’s on the line.”

To force a Game Seven back in San Francisco, the Celtics will need to avoid the mistakes that hurt them in the last two games, namely turnovers and stagnant fourth quarter offense.

They also need to spend less time arguing with the referees, something they did throughout Game Five, head coach Ime Udoka said.

“We’ve got to spend our energy on the game, and everything else going on in between, rather than the referees,” he said.

“That’s an area we can be better at, for sure.”


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