Lots of teams that go up two games to none will lose the thrid game. In fact, that's the way every 2nd round series has gone thus far. The Pistons, Lakers, and Hornets all won the first two at home and dropped the 3rd game on the road. The difference between those teams and the Celtics is that they all won road games in the first round. So if the Celtics lose this game, it won't be seen as just one game. It will be seen as a troubling trend. If they lose the next two, it will be a major story.
As Christopher Gasper of the Globe states:
Failure to win at least one of the next two games will raise questions about Boston's championship credentials. The optimistic Celtics fan will point out that if Doc Rivers and Co. win all their home games in the playoffs, they'll be NBA champions, but few expect banner 17 to be raised to the rafters unless the Celtics find a way to get some victories as visitors.
"Hopefully, we can learn from our mistakes," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "Basketball is all about learning from past mistakes. We fumbled a couple games down in Atlanta, so we're going to look at that to see what we can do better, especially on the road. The main part about playing on the road, we've got to bring a lot more energy to the game from the start. The energy we've had on the road, it's not high enough. [In the] playoffs you've got to take it to another level."
It's not as if the Celtics don't know how to win away from home. During the regular season, they posted the NBA's best road record (31-10). The biggest difference in Boston's play on the road during the postseason has been defense. The lockdown defense that has held LeBron James to 8-for-42 shooting in the first two games and Cleveland to 33.1 percent often hasn't made the trip with them.
You can't call this a "must win" when the team is up 2 nil. But this is one of those "show me" type games. They have an opportunity here to silence some critics and to take major control of the series. They will be facing a highly motivated, highly energized Cleveland team fighting for the chance to stay in the series. If they can put them away, we can say that they learned from their first round adventures with the Atlanta Hawks. Otherwise, we'll have a lot more to talk about on the blog in the coming days.