The Celtics are one win away from the NBA Finals. Crazy, right? But if the Celtics go into Game 6 as shocked as the world is, they'll get run out of the building in front of their home fans. The key to Boston's success has been the strong belief from within that what they're doing is not surprising, but expected. They're competing with the best because they know they can be the best.
Kevin Garnett has said it countless times. He hears the doubters, the haters, the people who say he and the Celtics are too old. What are those people doing now? Probably picking through a plate of crow.
But what others say only goes so far. It's what has gone on inside the locker room that has given the Celtics new life, and a chance at the NBA Finals.
"We're just a good team," Rivers said after Game 5. "A close-knit team. We have a lot of positive talk in our locker room. And I think it fuels them. Honestly, they think they can win, and we just got to keep hanging in there. I told them, 'We've done nothing.' We're playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we're going to Boston (for Game 6), I told them, 'We have to play. They're not going to give it to us. We have to go get it.' "
The Celtics should be well aware that opposing teams don't just go away when faced with elimination. In the last five seasons, the Celtics are 10-13 when they have a team on the brink of elimination. They blew a 3-2 lead to the Magic in the 2008-09 Eastern Conference Finals, and blew another 3-2 lead to the Lakers in the 2009-10 NBA Finals.
But this is a different team, one constructed of a group of players who know their roles well, a coach who knows his team well, and an "Ubuntu" philosophy that has never rung truer.
The Heat would be smart to take notice.
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Heat ready to mail it in?
They say timing is everything. Among other things, the Heat are currently struggling with that concept. Two off-court pieces of news surrounding Miami raised some eyebrows yesterday as Heat sharp-shooter Mike Miller is ready to auction off his 9,000 square foot home in Pompano Beach, Fla.. In addition, FOX Sports reported that Miami is set to make an offer to free agent point guard Andre Miller this offseason.