At the start of the series, I thought that three-point shooting would be the deciding factor. It hasn’t. Outside of a blistering performance by Boston in Game 2, both teams have been kinda meh from behind the arc.
And then there was the concern of defending Giannis Antetokounmpo. Grant Williams and Al Horford have answered that call. The former MVP has put up numbers, but the Celtics have at least made him look human.
Both teams have pushed the boundaries of physicality and that’s made this series a difficult one to officiate. Also, concerns of closing games have crept back up after losing Game 3 and particularly Game 5 in heartbreaking fashion.
But now we're here.
Game 6. Do-or-die. Win-or-go-home. The players are saying all the right things. You can't win two games in one day. It's put up or shut up. But sports cliches can be so boring really. Frankly, so can our predictions and analysis.
This late into a series and facing an elimination game, there's really little to talk about anyway. There's nothing to solve, no code to break. At this point, we've seen all the kitchen sink stuff from both coaches. Excuses and adjustments mean less and less.
Maybe today is The Jason Tatum Game. Maybe today it's Tatum and Brown both putting together 30-plus point games. Maybe it's the return of Robert Williams and a stifling defense that has fueled Boston's turnaround since the new year. Maybe a role player like Payton Pritchard or Derrick White has a monster third quarter.
It’s not just Marcus Smart; we love and trust all of you. Figure it out.
Championship teams win these kinds of games like the Bucks did last year. Yes, the Celtics are young. Yes, their core is signed through a handful of years. But this is an opportunity and they are fleeting in the NBA. Do not let youth be wasted on the young. While patience may be a virtue, regret often feasts on those who wait.