BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have battled through adversity time and time again. However, no obstacle they have faced over the last few seasons compares to the one they’re currently attempting to overcome.
Boston – the No. 1 seed in the East – finds itself facing a 2-0 deficit in its first-round matchup with the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls. The C’s, with their backs almost against the wall, will now fly to Chicago and play two games against a red-hot, veteran-laden team in a hostile environment.
On top of that, Boston’s leader Isaiah Thomas is grieving after the tragic death of his 22-year-old sister this past weekend, and his teammates are attempting to pick him up and rally around him.
The challenges continue to pile up for the Celtics. The odds continue to stack against them. But Boston must find a way to fight back, just like it always does.
The Celtics are made up of a group of fighters – underdogs who have been counted out their whole careers, yet they have always managed to exceed expectations and succeed. Together, they form a unit with a collective chip-on-its shoulder mentality, which has driven Boston’s success over the last few seasons. If they have any hope of gaining ground in this series, the C’s must rediscover that mindset.
“That has to happen,” Stevens stated Wednesday afternoon via conference call. “That’s the charge for our team.”
Boston is playing like it’s under extreme pressure, as our own Marc D’Amico detailed after Tuesday’s 111-97 Game 2 loss. Rather than take a one-play-at-a-time approach, they’re rushing possessions and trying to erase deficits with low-percentage, home run plays.
That has to change immediately.
“You hope that you can minimize or not focus on any pressure that you’re putting on yourself by doing your job the best you can,” said Stevens. “That’s really the only way to go about it. You’ve gotta win the next possession. You know what you need to do to win the next possession. We’ve just gotta do it.”
The task of winning possessions consistently is made all the more difficult by the fact that Chicago is currently playing the best basketball of its season.
After a rocky start, the Bulls have rallied around their experienced backcourt of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. On top of that, they’ve had surprising bench contributions from role players like Bobby Portis (19 points in Game 1) and Paul Zipser (16 points in Game 2).
The Celtics must use all of the obstacles above as motivation. They know the odds are stacked against them, but they also know they are capable of thriving in these types of adverse situations.
In this particular situation, they need to thrive or else their season could be over in a matter of days.
“You’ve gotta be able to handle it, move on from it, get ready to play and be completely connected on the road, in a hole,” said Stevens, whose team boasted a 23-18 road record during the regular season. “(With) things stacked against you, that chip (on our shoulder) has to come out. That’s the only way we’re going to have success.”