The Boston Celtics’ season didn’t end in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Miami Heat, and now there is a flicker of hope.
Whether Boston’s 116-99 victory on Tuesday night was the start of a miraculous revival or simply a momentary reprieve from what NBA history suggests is still inevitable remains to be determined.
At the very least, the Celtics’ win made their chances of becoming the first NBA team in 151 tries to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series move from insurmountable to iffy heading into Game 5 at TD Garden on Thursday.
That’s good for a team that had spent most of this series looking nothing like the one that earned the conference’s second seed.
“We’ve just got to go win another one. That’s all that matters,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “We take it one game at a time. We understand the odds are stacked against us, but we’re a team that believes in us no matter what, and we’ve just got to keep going, and all that matters is the next game.”
While the win gave the Celtics a little life, the Heat can blame themselves for not finishing. The game was close for three quarters and Miami still just needs to win one of the final three games to make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since its run in 2020 in the Florida bubble. Denver is waiting to play the winner after sweeping the Lakers.
Boston won three times on the Heat’s home floor last year in the East finals. With a win on Thursday, Miami would accomplish the same feat on Boston’s floor this year.
The Celtics are 4-5 at home this postseason.
Heat star Jimmy Butler said he isn’t worried about Boston’s first win giving it momentum heading home.
“No. If anything, it will build momentum for us knowing that we have to play with a lot more energy,” Butler said. “We’ve got to play like our backs are against the wall. But I think all year long, we’ve been better when we’ve had to do things the hard way.”