After falling behind 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston Celtics’ guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart told the media, “Don’t let us get one.” Not only did the Celtics get one, but they got a second and a third in a row to tie the series and become only the fourth team in NBA history to advance to a game seven after such a deficit. The Celtics also needed one of the luckiest bounces in NBA history to even up the series.
Watching an opponent fight their way back into a series after you’ve had them dead to rights is hard enough. But to lose game six at home, when you’ve fought back after being down nearly the entire game the way Miami did, only to have Boston win it on a last-second putback by Derrick White, is beyond heartbreaking. The Celtics did it again to the Heat after essentially promising to get back into this series. Everyone not wearing green in the arena looked like they were going to be sick after realizing White actually got the shot off in time, thus ensuring a game seven in Boston on Monday.
Let’s be honest, the Celtics were scoffed at by nearly everyone after the “don’t let us get one” comment, which could have been seen as a nod to the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who accomplished the same feat these Celtics will attempt to complete on Monday night inside TD Garden. Kevin Millar uttered the phrase, “Let me tell ya, don’t let us win today...” ahead of game four against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series in ‘04. Now, nearly 20 years later, the Celtics find themselves in the same situation with a chance to become the first team in their league’s history to do what was once deemed impossible, the same way the Red Sox did in Major League Baseball.
After taking three straight games, all the Celtics need is to win another to advance to the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. The momentum has clearly shifted the Celtics’ way in this series, and so has the pressure. Miami was only favored in this series after winning the first three games. Now after dropping three straight and the Celtics forcing a seventh game, nobody expects the Heat to close out on the road. The pressure is squarely back on the shoulders of the home team, Boston. And the Heat are right back where they feel most comfortable, as the underdog.
There’s so much on the line in Monday’s game seven that this could turn into one of the greatest elimination games ever. So much history is at stake. If the Celtics win, they will become the first team in the association to complete a comeback from 0-3. They’re only the fourth to force a game seven. If the Heat win and advance to the NBA Finals, they’ll be only the second No. 8 seed to make an NBA Finals appearance. The Knicks were the first and only number eight seed to get to an NBA Finals.
The New England region might be the luckiest sports region in America after Saturday nights finish. The Patriots’ dynasty began on a gracious call during a divisional round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in Jan ‘02, now infamously known as the tuck rule game. As mentioned, the Red Sox made an improbable comeback against the Yankees in the ‘04 ALCS, and now the Celtics can match their baseball counterpart by completing the same mission. And after the way the C’s took game six in heartbreaking fashion, you can’t say the luck of the Irish isn’t on their side if they finish off the Heat in game seven.