Warning: the following content is the result of the unhinged emotions of a Boston Celtics fan who—after just one measly win—may legitimately believe that they can win the series, despite no team in history ever coming back from a 3-0 deficit. Viewer discretion is advised.
Remember on Monday when I said that nothing mattered anymore, Boston Celtics fans? We could all watch Game 4 with our hearts glazed over, steeped in blissful omnipotence about the fate of the universe, knowing that we had already lost the series.
Yeah, forget all that. I believe.
Because I also want you to remember this about Monday: even as I was enveloped by a dark cloud of nihilist hysteria, I couldn’t resist mapping out the lone path through the dense abyss of 3-0 deficits, because something, somewhere within me, found some way to somehow believe this was possible. That path was achieving the impossible, and attaining immortality.
But I didn’t demand that the Boston Celtics actually come back from this hole. I just demanded that they fight back. To not roll over and die while all of sports media wrote obituaries and autopsies for two full days. If that didn’t energize them, nothing could.
And secretly, I wanted them to take their belief back from the Miami Heat. In Game 3, the Heat basically put the Celtics in a UFC submission hold, tightening the choke until the belief in survival ran out. And they tapped out after the 3rd Quarter.
I couldn’t bear the thought that the Celtics team that I had believed in since October would just give up. Because deep down, I don’t care if the Celtics win. I just need them to fight. I was sad and worried that the Heat had actually broken them and that they would be unable to even try to fight back.
But then I went on Twitter this afternoon. And I saw that Jaylen Brown had uttered these words to the Athletic’s Jay King: “Don’t let us win tonight.”
And suddenly, every bone, muscle fiber, brain synapse, both my coronary and pulmonary arteries, the big and small intestine, and every single hair follicle in my body began firing with Bostonian energy. I was possessed by the words of Kevin Millar from 2004, who—down 3-0 to the New York Yankees, began repeating over and over to players, fans, and media at Fenway Park: Don’t let us win tonight.
I’ve had my differences with Brown. Some of his off-court decisions are maddening, and I may or may not have talked myself into that Kevin Durant trade last year. But Brown has a superpower: knowing exactly what Celtics nation needs to hear.
When he said that the energy was about to shift, it did. When he called out the TD Garden crowd, demanding a historically energetic building for Game 7 against the 76ers, they responded. So when he echoed the words of the man who prophesied the greatest comeback in sports history—and arguably the greatest moment in world history—he had me back in on this team.
Game 4 was hardly a convincing 48 minutes, but all the Celtics had to do to rope me back in again was to show me six. The first six minutes of the third quarter were uncanny because I could have sworn that I saw everything about this team that makes them great, not just good. The defense was suffocating, and the ball movement was exquisite. Guys—specifically Grant Williams, but technically multiple guys—were hitting 3-pointers, and Tatum suddenly had space to take two steps and finish. It was glorious.
All the while, Miami couldn’t hit a shot. Even the great giant-killer Jimmy Butler went cold, with the Grant producing my all-time favorite wow-that-sucked-the-air-out-of-this-building play: blocking Butler’s baseline turnaround.
Game 2 found the two at odds, and literally butting heads. That baseline turnaround had scorched Derrick White approximately one billion times, but Grant was having none of it. And best of all: he didn’t have to say a word to Butler. The crowd’s silence said it all.
The Boston Celtics still face historical odds to overcome
Obviously, I’m a realist. The statistical odds of winning four consecutive professional basketball games after losing the first three are about I-don’t-actually-care out of 10, because just kidding, I’m not a realist!
Boston is one of the only places on earth that knows what it takes to come back from down 3-0, so we should be up for this and then some.
Because odds don’t calculate mindset. The Boston Celtics don’t have to win three more games in a row, they just have to win one game, three times. The mental gymnastics required to make this seem feasible are actually not super difficult. Let me map out the path to immortality more specifically this time:
Step 1: Must win Game 5 at home. The crowd has to be all-time great. Ride the emotion and the energy from Game 4 all the way back to Boston and force Game 6.
Step 2: Game 6 would be a pressure cooker. Miami would be desperate to close it out at home because messing around with Jayson Tatum in a home Game 7 has yielded poor results for those that have tried.
Step 3: The two best words in sports: Game 7. Enough said.
We are nothing if we can’t believe. After losing every shred of hope on Sunday, the Celtics went to the mat and wrestled belief back from the jaws of defeat. Even if the Celtics lose Game 5 at home, I will still be thankful that they let me believe for another two days. Maybe that makes me crazy, or maybe I’m just from Boston. One game, three times.
Side note: Who in the Miami Heat organization was responsible for allowing Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez—the POSTER BOYS of the 2004 Yankees team that blew a 3-0 lead to the Boston Red Sox—in the building for Game 4, let alone showing their faces on the jumbotron?! If this is you, please contact me. I would like to give you a big hug and remind you that nobody understands curses quite like us.