This trend should make Celtics fans confident entering Game 6 vs. Heat
This trend should make Celtics fans confident entering Game 6 vs. Heat originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Going on the road and facing elimination from the playoffs is typically a very hard challenge for any NBA team, including the Boston Celtics. In fact, during a 40-year span from 1981 through 2021, the Celtics had a 5-11 record facing elimination on the road, and three of those five wins came in the 1980s.
But the last two postseasons have seen the Celtics rise to the challenge in those types of must-win situations.
The Celtics have won four consecutive road games when facing elimination -- one short of the team record when they won five straight from 1968 through 1974. The C's will have an opportunity to extend their current streak to five games Saturday night when they go down to Miami for Game 6 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Heat.
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Boston trailed 0-3 in this series but has won the last two games, including a 110-97 victory in Thursday night's Game 5 at TD Garden. The Celtics already staved off elimination in Game 4 of the series in Miami. They've also won four of their last six playoff games in Miami beginning with last season's conference finals matchup.
Here's a look at the Celtics' playoff winning streak when facing elimination on the road:
2023 ECF Game 4 at Miami: The Celtics avoided a sweep by outscoring the Heat 66-43 in the second half.
2023 ECSF Game 6 at Philadelphia: Jayson Tatum scored 16 fourth-quarter points to help Boston force a Game 7.
2022 ECF Game 7 at Miami: The Celtics held off a late Heat comeback attempt to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
2022 ECSF Game 6 at Milwaukee: Jayson Tatum scored 46 points in arguably the most impressive performance of his career.
What has allowed the Celtics to go into difficult road environments and give stellar performances with their season on the line?
"I feel like, speaking for us this year and last year, when we've had a lead or tied a series up and came back home, for whatever reason we've relaxed, for lack of better words, and we've lost some crucial games at home and really just had to buckle down, going on the road, back is against the wall, nobody but us and the coaches and the guys in that locker room believe that, whether it's last year, last series, that we were going to win," Tatum said after Game 5.
"But like I said, we've got a really connected group. We've got a group of determined, tough guys that, like I said, I know I can count on. I know I'm going to look to my left and my right when all hope seems to be lost, when the game is on the line, our backs are against the wall, that everybody is going to go down fighting and give everything they have. That's contagious because we truly -- whether it's ignorant belief, we do believe at all times that we still have a chance, that anything can happen."
No team in league history has ever come back from trailing 0-3 and won a playoff series. If the Celtics are going to become the first, they'll need to win one more road elimination game down in Miami.