SAN FRANCISCO — The Boston Celtics know they once again failed to capitalize on securing the field by dropping Game 4 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
But as the series returns here at Chase Center for Game 5 on Monday night, with the Finals now turning into a 3-way affair for the NBA title, Boston remains confident it can once again secure the road victory it has need to get the Job completed.
“You can take positives from anything,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “Obviously I think we can be in a better position than the one we’re in, but we’re not. It’s 2-2. Still, nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of great basketball is still ahead of us. We take our mistakes and learn from them and you apply them as best you can moving forward, I still think we’re in a great place.
“I’m excited to see how we react over the next two days. I mean, it’s exciting. It’s the biggest stage in the world. I’m going to take our group, our guys, against anyone. So I’m looking forward to that.”
There are plenty of reasons Brown is optimistic about Boston’s chances against the Warriors. Yes, the Celtics will need to win at least one more game on the road to win the NBA title, but they have – so far in this playoffs – had more success away from home than playing at TD Garden. Going into Game 5, the Celtics are 8-3 in playoff road games – compared to just 6-5 at home.
And, on top of that, Boston has won all seven games it has played after a loss so far in these playoffs — and has gone 13-1 in those games since the Celtics started turning their season ending. January.
“We obviously put ourselves in a position to extend the lead and lead 3-1,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “But at the end of the day we’re 2-2 and we’ve deserved that too, not being 0-2 or 1-2 down or anything. And so I’m sure they said the same thing to “About Golden State after we beat them here. We know it’s a long streak. Like I said, we were battle tested in two seven-game series in Milwaukee and Miami.
Those experiences against Milwaukee and Miami in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Finals, respectively, are also part of Boston’s confidence going forward. The Celtics have gone on the road and won playoff games against both teams at their own building, giving them confidence that they can do the same this time around.
“[Game 4] was a tough loss, and we understand that,” Tatum said of the Celtics’ 107-97 loss. “We’ve been here before. This is [the] third time in a row, I feel like I’m here. So we know what it takes. We know what we have to do and pay attention to details and things like that. I’m confident like I’ve been in all the playoffs, confident that we’ll respond and play better for the majority of the game. [Monday].”
The other factor Boston is focusing on is that there are clear things the Celtics can control that, if they do, should lead to positive results. When Tatum has at least seven assists in a game this season, Boston is 18-2, including 15 straight wins. Along those same lines, when Boston commits 15 or fewer turnovers in the playoffs, the Celtics are 14-2 — including wins in Games 1 and 3.
Conversely, when Boston commits 16 or more turnovers, it’s 0-6 — including its losses in Games 2 and 4.
“I think the narrative is moved to [Steph] Curry and what he does,” Udoka said. “But in our wins and losses, they score the same points. A lot depended on our attack, from your point of view, in the fourth quarter. But even throughout the game we had several chances, being five, six, seven, and a bad attack or turnovers let them back in the game. The difference in the game where we stretched the lead is that we took advantage of those opportunities. We were solid. And against this team, every time you throw a bad attack, turn the ball over, do live turnovers, let them out, we know how quickly they can get back in the game.
“That was the case in Game 4 when we had our chances.”
One thing that weighs on the Celtics heading into Game 5, as it has throughout this series, is the status of starting center Robert Williams III, who is struggling with persistent left knee pain.
Williams was plus-6 in 31 minutes in Game 4, finishing with 7 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and two blocks, but he asked out of the game with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter after a awkward landing on that sick left knee. Williams suffers a bone bruise in his knee; he had meniscus surgery 2 and a half months ago.
He and Udoka, however, said he was feeling better on Sunday and were optimistic about his return to the pitch in Game 5.
“I feel good,” Williams said. “A little sore, but on the side of better days [I’ve had].
“Actually, I was looking for the clip [to see what happened]. I can’t necessarily tell you if it was the jump or the landing, but typical pain, man. But like I said, I feel good.”
Udoka went on to say that there was no specific game that triggered Williams’ injury, and that while he will have to pass his normal pre-game tests to determine if he can go, Udoka was confident that Williams would be able to.