Boston Celtics cannot squander golden opportunity in Game 6

Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics pulled out a gritty victory on the road in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat last night. It was the type of win that a team is required to make at least once in the playoffs if they want to eventually end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Boston now holds a commanding 3-2 series lead over Miami as the series shifts back to TD Garden for Game 6. The C’s will have two chances to finish off the Heat and send themselves to the NBA Finals.

You couldn’t have asked for an uglier game of basketball in Game 5, but at this time of the year, all that matters is who ends up in the win column. The Celtics kept the game close in the first half before Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum guided Boston on a 21-2 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth that helped ice the game.

Now all eyes are on Boston. They seem to have a depleted Heat team on the ropes, and they reinforced the notion that they have figured out the answers to Miami’s stifling defense along the way. But make no mistake; this series is not over yet, and the Celtics need to head into Game 6 with the mentality that it is a must-win constest.

The Boston Celtics cannot afford to lose Game 6

On paper, declaring Game 6 a must-win for the Celtics seems a bit overexaggerated. Realistically, they have two shots to win one game, where Miami is going to have beat Boston two times in a row. It would seem like the impetus is on the Heat to force this series back to FTX Arena, and in some ways, it is.

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But the momentum is entirely on Boston’s side right now. They have brought Miami’s offense to a screeching halt recently, and while Miami’s defense continues to give them trouble, the Celtics have more offensive talent to help them overcome their scoring woes than the Heat do.

The Heat are also falling victim to a bevy of injuries. Tyler Herro missed his second straight game last night, and Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent have been regulars on the injury report throughout this series. Anyone who has watched the series will tell you that these guys are not 100 percent healthy.

That’s what makes Game 6 so dangerous for the Boston Celtics. There’s no reason for them to lose when they take the court tomorrow night. They have proven to be the better team when they don’t hand the game over to Miami. They haven’t been spectacular on offense their last two games; they’ve just managed to be better than the Heat.

If the Celtics were to lose a potential clincher on their home court in Game 6, it would be devastating. Not only do you pass up a golden opportunity to get some rest as you wait for the Finals, but you have to head back to Miami and try to beat the Heat with the home crowd behind them. They’ve done it before, but Game 7s are different.

Boston Celtics biggest opponent is themselves. dark. Next

Considering the hole Boston dug themselves in early on in the series, this is the best scenario they could have found themselves in. Game 6, at TD Garden, with a chance to clinch a spot in the NBA Finals in front of their fans. This is the C’s best shot at clinching a spot in the Finals in over a decade; they would be wise to not throw it away.