Now, Boston is facing an unlikely 0-2 hole in their series against the Chicago Bulls, leaving many to question if the Celtics have what it takes to bounce back.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley told the media that he heard Bulls guard, and former Celtics player, Rajon Rondo saying that the Celtics have given up as the teams entered the 4th quarter of Game 2.
“I looked around and a few times in the game guys were putting their heads down, I think getting down on themselves,” Bradley said. “But as a team, we have to stay together. The other team is looking at that. They’re using that as motivation for themselves.
“I could even hear Rondo, like, ‘Yeah, they gave up. They gave up.’ But you never can let a team see that. You have to continue to be positive and go out there and play hard, no matter what the outcome is.”
The Celtics know that heading into Chicago, down 0-2 in the series, is not an easy pill to swallow but they feel that they are up for the challenge.
“It’s not an ideal situation for us,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said.
“You don’t put yourself down 0-2 at home. But it’s not the end of the world for us. We have the unit to go to Chicago and take Game 3. It’s not ideal, but we feel like we can bounce back.”
“Jae said it best,” Boston forward Al Horford said. “That’s all we have. Game 3 is a must-win for us.”
Boston head coach Brad Stevens, who now holds a 2-10 record in the NBA playoffs, knows that Game 3 is a big game, a critical game for the team and insists he will be fully prepared for Friday’s challenge.
“We have to get ready to play great on Friday,” Stevens said. “That’s what our focus has to be. We don’t have any other choice. And that’s what we said in the locker room, and that’s it.
“We’ll dissect the film, we’ll go through it, we’ll figure out what we didn’t do well — and there’ll be quite a lot — and go from there. But the Zipser, Mirotic, [Bobby] Portis, those guys have had huge impacts on the first two games of this series. I mean, I expect it from [Dwyane] Wade, right? I mean, I think we all do. Last year, I think he hit less than 10 [3-pointers] during the regular season and then more than that in the first round of the playoffs. Like, this is who he is. And it’s who Rondo’s been throughout his career. I mean, the level that he’s playing at is terrific. And then [Jimmy] Butler [is] Butler. But those other guys are really impacting the series in a big way.”
While the Celtics have had to deal with a lot of adversity, including the death of Isaiah Thomas’ 22-year-old sister last weekend, Bradley refused to make any excuses for the team’s poor play.
“You can’t make any excuses,” said Bradley.
“Obviously, it’s heavy on everyone’s heart what happened to Isaiah and his family, and we were there for Isaiah. But we can’t continue to say that’s the reason. We just want to be there for him, continue to be there, and play hard.
“At the end of the day, we should want to play hard for each other and for him. Like, we can’t sit there and keep saying, ‘Oh, we’re down because too much is going on.’ We have to play hard, no matter what. You go through a lot throughout a season. You’re going to face a lot of adversity. And the best teams overcome any type of adversity. And that’s what type of team we need to be.”
Phoenix battled back to win the best-of-five series and went on to reach the NBA Finals