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CelticsPod: hustle & intensity

The Celtics head into Game 5 looking to take control of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Brushing off an awful Game 3 performance, the Boston Celtics took care of business on Monday night, blowing out the Miami Heat and proving there’s still plenty of fight left in the tank. Now, the series is tied up at 2-2, and both teams head into Game 5, looking to grab this series by the horns and steal all the momentum.

In today’s episode of the CelticsPod podcast, hosts Adam Taylor and Will Weir explore what we saw unfold in Game 4, primarily from an individual standpoint and from a schematic's viewpoint.

“Udoka sent his team out to hunt mismatches early and often. We’ve seen this before, in Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and they had great success then. They were running inverted screen sets to get Jayson Tatum switched onto Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, or Gabe Vincent. No wonder he got to the line so frequently,” Adam Taylor noted when discussing how the Celtics tore apart Miami’s defense with ease.

Of course, you can’t discuss the Celtics' blowout victory without heaping praise on Al Horford, who may have only finished with 5 points, but stamped his authority on the game from the opening tip - dominating defensively and providing a presence on the glass and as a screener.

“Something’s different with Al in this postseason. I’ve said it before, he’s puffing his chest out more, he’s more animated - I call him ‘Animated Al’. He’s doing everything right now; his shooting has improved, his defense has been great, and he’s leading by example. I mean, think back to the Milwaukee series when he had a couple of 30-point games; that’s not even a throwback, because prime Horford didn’t drop 30 points like that; this is a new version that we’re seeing,” Will Weir said when discussing Horford’s impact, not only in Game 4 against Miami but throughout the entire playoff run.

Miami holds home-court advantage in this series, so the Celtics will likely be looking to end this contest in six games, meaning they’ll need to find a way to win on Wednesday night and then back at the Garden on Firday. Sure, they pulled out back-to-back wins to send the Milwaukee Bucks into the offseason, but if they did so when playing Game 7 on home soil, things will be different this time.

“Obviously, it’s 2-2, so it’s kind of like a new series, best of three. And I think that having a conversation about human nature when you win a game, you can relax a little bit, but when you lose a game, we feel like the next game is do-or-die, and then we come out and play how we did (in Game 4), and we need to have that mindset going into Game 5,” Tatum told reporters after helping Boston even the series on Monday night.

Marcus Smart and Robert Williams are both questionable heading into Game 5, but if Boston continues to hunt mismatches, lock down on defense, and limit Miami’s corner actions, they have every chance of taking the lead in this series and putting themselves in position to close things out at home on Friday.

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