On a tightrope since the Bucks’ stunning Game 5 victory in Boston, the Celtics have trembled but held on. Victorious in Game 6 in Wisconsin on the shoulders of a sensational Jayson Tatum, Boston made its collective speak to win in the decisive round and eliminate the defending champion.
Like Grant Williams, exemplary as a “role player”, or in the same vein Payton Pritchard who came off the bench like a walking firecracker, the Celtics have shown a most impressive collective cohesion.
“We didn’t want it to end”
Despite the good start to the game from Giannis Antetokounmpo who was almost a triple-double in the only first quarter, and the clumsiness of Grant Williams and even the foul problems of Jayson Tatum, Boston kept the faith and continued to trust in his game plan.
“Looks like we finally got tired of them,” laughed Ime Udoka in The Athletic.
Overall better armed, especially in the absence of Khris Middleton, the Celtics managed to stay the course by offering various options to the defense of the Bucks. Never giving in to loss of confidence or despair in the face of the Greek tornado, Boston fought back like a champion.
“We played two games where our season was at stake,” recalls Jaylen Brown. “We didn’t want it to end. We couldn’t overcome everything we overcame earlier in the season to stop there. »
Already badly embarked at the start of the season, with 23 wins and 24 losses as late as the end of January, the Celtics managed to turn the tide through hard work and repetition under the orders of their coach, Ime Udoka, the architect of this new team, a model of its kind in defense.
“As a head coach, the only difference I find [par rapport au rôle d’assistant], is that I don’t see the faces in the audience, I don’t hear the crowd. I’m really fully focused on what’s happening on the pitch. Everyone was telling me how loud it was in the hall, and I had never heard it…until this game. »
“Enough character to go all the way”
Starting from the head coach to the last player on the end of the bench, the C’s were on a mission. After choosing at the end of the regular season not to distort the playoff table by accepting the omen of a high-risk confrontation against Brooklyn in the first round, Jayson Tatum and his family assumed.
“I have progressed in the sense that I am better prepared. I’m obviously tired after every game but my body is more mature since my third season.” adds Jayson Tatum. “I feel stronger and take better care of my body. As a result, I feel better prepared for every game. My body is cashing in better compared to my third season. »
Facing the defending champion, with their double MVP too, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics not only showed heart, but they could well have also learned a very valuable lesson for the future: discipline allows you to take the blows and to bounce back.
“Giannis is simply relentless in his approach”explains Jaylen Brown. “He is aggressive all the time. He does not accept being pushed back, and it was hard for us. This whole series, his level of physicality has put us in difficulty. But we stayed disciplined and we increased our aggressiveness, it was incredible. »
For the fourth time in the past six years, Boston is among the top two teams in its conference. This time however, the Celtics seem to have that extra bit of soul, perseverance and heart to get through this stage and reach the Finals…
“It’s a group that I think has enough character to go all the way,” concludes Jaylen Brown. “With all that we’ve overcome, all the battles, challenges and adversity that we’ve been through this season, not to mention beating the defending champion that we just did, I think we are prepared. We are ready to take the next step. We have to go find him. »
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