Report: How Celtics responded to Game 5 loss to Bucks internally

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Report: How Celtics dealt with Game 5 Bucks loss in locker room originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Ime Udoka and several members of the Boston Celtics have said similar versions of the same thing ahead of Thursday's must-win NBA Finals Game 6 at TD Garden: We've been here before.

The Celtics indeed trailed the Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals after a crushing home loss in Game 5. But the C's rallied to take Game 6 in Milwaukee behind Jayson Tatum's 46 points and won Game 7 at home to advance to the East Finals.

How did they maintain their confidence after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in that Game 5 -- and can they channel that same confidence to win two straight against the Golden State Warriors?

Forsberg: Can Celtics make one final push to finish marathon season?

In a column Thursday, ESPN's Zach Lowe reported some enlightening details from inside Boston's locker room and film sessions after that Game 5. Here are a few highlights:

-- Rather than finger-pointing, Celtics players (including Marcus Smart, who committed a costly turnover in the final minute) held themselves accountable and vowed to do better, per Lowe.

"Players sat at their stalls and spoke to no one in particular, several within the team recall: 'I have to be better. We all have to be better,'" Lowe wrote. "Smart voiced accountability for what he saw as a series of personal mistakes that cost the Celtics the game."

-- The coaching staff called out the team's mistakes in a film session the following day but didn't play favorites, with both coaches and players being "very transparent," according to Lowe.

"They showed mistakes from everyone, including the core stars, sources say," Lowe wrote. "The coaches spoke quietly. There was no personal criticism, just This is what we did wrong, this is what we need to improve. It was so clinical, the criteria so clear, some within the team compared it to a teacher grading a test."

-- Celtics big man Al Horford, typically more of a quiet leader, has been "a little louder this season, including in that Milwaukee film session," Lowe reported.

"Horford has a habit of speaking up once the coaches are done with one clip segment and asking, simply, 'Did you guys digest that? Did everyone get what coach was saying?'" Lowe wrote.

Those three examples highlight Boston's vastly-improved chemistry, as the C's are now a cohesive unit who can fix necessary mistakes and remain confident in the face of adversity.

This is the Celtics' toughest test yet, as the Warriors are an experienced group whose core boasts three NBA championships. But history suggests head coach Ime Udoka's group will enter Thursday night at TD Garden with the right mindset.