1. “What do we say to the God of Death?”
Game of Thrones fans will recognize that quote as one of the series most famous lines. Boston Celtics fans will recognize it as the guys in green refusing to go back to Boston without another basketball game to play.
With the season on the line, the Milwaukee Bucks cut what was once an 18-point lead to just four points with 7:48 to play. It looked like the Celtics were once again crumbling.
Instead, they steeled their backs, and said “Not today”.
A couple of minutes later, the Bucks cut the lead to five. Again, the Celtics answered with “Not today”.
Boston made plays throughout the game. But the ones that meant just a little bit more were punching back each time Milwaukee made a little run. And the best part? Those big plays game in the flow of the game.
As Jayson Tatum said postgame: “I believe in everyone in that locker room that we have what it takes. If we stick together and put our minds to it, I’d take us any day.”
2. Friday the 13th Part VI is titled “Jason Lives”.
Part 6 of this series was on Friday the 13th.
We can title this one “Jayson Lives”.
Boston generated a ton of good three-pointers all throughout the game, most of them off movement and drives. This was Jayson Tatum getting started early after driving, relocating and shooting against the mismatch:
It can be hard to get into the paint against these Bucks, but Tatum made a great play here to get the layup:
This is big-time. Tatum makes the perfect find to Jaylen Brown in the corner, but peep Derrick White’s cut pulling the defense with him to open up Brown:
When Tatum is really feeling it, he’ll get a mismatch and proceed to destroy that player, as he does here to Grayson Allen:
The only thing wrong here? Tatum got a toe on the line:
Need to beat the clock? Get it to your best player when he’s on fire:
No toe on the line here:
Somewhere, Dirk Nowitzki is smiling tonight:
Great movement and passing here and Pat Connaughton might as well be invisible. It was just Tatum and the rim at this point:
The jumpers are awesome. But when you really want to finish off an opponent, you drive and crush their spirit like this:
46 do-or-die points.
Jayson Lives indeed.
3. Jayson Tatum will draw the headlines (including here!), but he had plenty of help from his friends. Jaylen Brown got it going in the second half and had a string of big plays himself.
This was great work to draw a foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo in transition:
On the next trip, Brown buried this one from way outside:
22 big points for Brown to help get things back to Boston.
4. Game 5 was a mess of a meltdown. But it’s over. And the Celtics did a wonderful job putting it behind them as well. And they did it in part with better execution. Marcus Smart said “This was as poised as we’ve ever been, actually. That’s a sign of a team that’s maturing.”
Backing that up? Zero turnovers in the fourth quarter. Two days after collapsing, Boston kept things under control for the full 48 and evened up the series.
5. Speaking of Marcus Smart…he got destroyed by many after Game 5. He admitted that he took that loss harder than he’s taken any other. Smart felt he let the team down with his play late in that game.
He more than made up for it in Game 6. He’s giving up eight inches and probably 30-40 pounds here. But Smart forces Giannis Antetokounmpo into the difficult fallaway, and he contests without fouling:
Smart hit a bunch of threes, but he also did a good job of getting downhill. This is a nice read of the floor and the open lane for the blowby layup:
21 points and seven assists. That’s how you bounce back and that’s why he’s Loved and Trusted.
6. Ime Udoka worked some of his ATO magic in this game. In the first quarter, this is a perfect set to get Marcus Smart an open corner three. Great pass by Al Horford on the short roll too:
This one came while Jayson Tatum was shooting flames out of his body. Knowing the Bucks would be focused on Tatum after the timeout, Udoka ran this set to get Jaylen Brown dialed up and Brown delivered:
7. Derrick White scored all nine of his points in the first half, but he was key to this win all throughout. His defense against an array of Bucks was huge. And White is key to pushing pace and keeping the ball moving.
When he can make plays like this driving floater, White’s even more dangerous:
Milwaukee wants White to shoot jumpers, but they don’t want him to shoot them quite this wide-open:
White also joined a growing list of Celtics who have found success attacking Bobby Portis one-on-one:
It’s not an eye-popping stat-line, but White did exactly what he was acquired to do, and he did it when Boston needed it most.
8. The Celtics finished with 22 assists on 38 baskets. The ball movement was really solid all game long, and it got everyone involved.
This is the kind of runout Boston can get, especially after Giannis gets stopped deep down the other end of the floor. Great hit-ahead pass by Jayson Tatum to Marcus Smart here:
Smart gets the shooter’s bounce here, but this is such pretty basketball. Tatum starts it with a nice swing to Derrick White, who then attacks the paint. Drive, kick and stick:
Daniel Theis, who played another solid game in relatively short minutes, starts this with a kickout pass. Then Grant Williams drives and kicks again. But the ball has a way of finding you if you play the right way, and Smart zips it back to Theis for the short jumper:
9. Al Horford and Grant Williams didn’t do much scoring-wise, but they didn’t need to. Instead, they made their impact on the defensive end. Horford had four big blocks, while Williams came up with two steals. And, of course, they had about a million contests on Gianni Antetokounmpo forays to the rim.
Horford got started early, by turning away Grayson Allen at the rim:
Early in the fourth quarter, Horford cleaned up this mess by blocking George Hill’s putback attempt:
A little later, Williams made a great steal on this interior pass:
Bigs doing the little, but actually big, stuff.
10. We’re headed back to Boston.
Game 7. The situation where legends are born.
The 2022 Celtics have been resilient and tough. They battle, they fight and they do it together. Sometimes down, but never really out.
This game, Game 7 at home, is why Boston played it out in Game 82. This is why they went hard until the end.
Now, they have to take advantage to keep this magical run alive.
Game 7 is Sunday, May 15 at 3:30 PM ET on ABC.