The Boston Celtics are on the verge of elimination after their shocking 115-103 loss at home to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Heading to Philly for Game 6, many are counting them out.
However, Keith Smith pointed out a couple of things that should give hope to their fans.
Not at all. No chance is going way too far.
Boston won in this exact spot a year ago.
Doc Rivers track record closing out playoff series isn’t exactly sterling.
Boston has a chance, even if things feel pretty grim right now. https://t.co/5mOPOePGPW
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 10, 2023
Last season, the Celtics trailed the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, 3-2, in the second round of the playoffs after collapsing in Game 5 at home, only to take Game 6 in Wisconsin and then claim Game 7 at home.
The key difference is that star wing Khris Middleton was out for Milwaukee last year, while no key players are out for Philly right now.
In addition, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t exactly have a stellar record when his team leads a playoff series.
Casual reminder: Doc Rivers has the most blown series leads by any coach in NBA history.
Unfortunately for Joe Mazzulla, none came against a rookie head coach.
— Micah Adams (@MAdamsStatGuy) May 10, 2023
This includes the 2010 NBA Finals, when his Celtics blew a 13-point lead in the second half of Game 7 to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
More recently, Rivers’ Sixers lost Game 5 and Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals at home to the Atlanta Hawks, a team that was clearly inferior to them.
If the Celtics are to come back and get past this year’s iteration of the Sixers, Jayson Tatum will need to play better and lead the way — his 11-of-27 shooting in Game 5 simply won’t get it done.
But if they manage to win Game 6, one has to figure they would be favored in Game 7 at home.
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