Going on the road and facing playoff elimination is usually a very difficult challenge for any NBA team, including the Boston Celtics. In fact, over a 40-year span from 1981 to 2021, the Celtics went 5-11 facing elimination on the road, with three of those five wins coming in the 1980s.
But the past two postseasons have seen the Celtics rise to the challenge in those types of must-win situations.
The Celtics have won four straight road games when facing elimination, one shy of the team record when they won five in a row from 1968-1974. The Cs will have a chance to extend their current streak to five games on Saturday night. night when they come down to Miami for Game 6 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat.
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Boston trailed 0-3 in this series but has won the last two games, including a 110-97 win in Game 5 Thursday night at the TD Garden. The Celtics already avoided elimination in Game 4 of the series in Miami. They’ve also won four of their last six playoff games in Miami, beginning with last season’s conference finals matchup.
Here’s a look at the Celtics’ playoff winning streak as they face elimination on the road:
- Game 4 of the ECF 2023 in Miami: The Celtics avoided a sweep by outscoring the Heat 66-43 in the second half.
- 2023 ECSF Game 6 in Philadelphia: Jayson Tatum scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to help Boston force a Game 7.
- Game 7 of the ECF 2022 in Miami: The Celtics held off a late comeback attempt by the Heat to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
- 2022 ECSF Game 6 at Milwaukee: Jayson Tatum scored 46 points in arguably the most impressive performance of his career.
What has allowed the Celtics to enter difficult environments on the road and deliver stellar performances with their season on the line?
“I feel like, speaking for us this year and last year, when we had a lead or evened a series and came home, for some reason we kind of relaxed, for lack of better words, and we lost some crucial games at home and I really had to. buckle up, go on the road, back is against the wall, nobody but us and the coaches and the guys in that locker room believe that, whether it was last year, the last series, that we were going to win,” Tatum said. after Game 5.
“But like I said, we have a really connected group. We have a group of tough, determined guys who, like I said, I know I can count on. I know I’m going to look to my left.” and my right when all hope seems lost, when the game is at stake, our backs are against the wall, that everyone is going down fighting and giving everything they have. That’s contagious because we truly — be it ignorant belief, we believe at all times that we still have a chance, that anything can happen.”
No team in league history has come back from being down 0-3 and winning a playoff series. If the Celtics are going to become first, they will need to win one more elimination game on the road in Miami.