As their post-season hangs in the balance, the Boston Celtics are making their way to the Fiserv Forum for game six of their playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Following their May 11 loss, the Celtics are now one game away from elimination and will need to win their next two contests if they wish to progress and face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
When a playoff series is tied, game five is often considered the most pivotal meeting of the entire round because whoever tastes victory then gains the momentum moving forward. And according to Nick Wright of Fox Sports, the Celtics’ latest loss has all but sealed their fate, with the analyst expecting Boston to fall short in their bid to win a championship this season.
“Every major Bucks play came off a Celtics mistake. The Giannis three was on an offensive rebound. The Jrue three was on a Marcus Smart turnover. The Bobby Portis putback was on a free-throw offensive rebound. That’s a collapse.
They were ten minutes away from being the favorites to win the title, and now their season is over within 36 hours. So as much as I want to give love to Giannis and Jrue, that’s a collapse,” Wright said on a recent episode of First Things First.
Robert Williams ‘Questionable’ for Game Six
When Robert Williams underwent surgery for a torn meniscus shortly before the playoffs began, it seemed like the Celtics would be without their star big man for the entire post-season.
However, after a successful operation, Williams was back on the court in time to help his team see off the Brooklyn Nets within four games. However, the rim-runner from Lousiana has since had some swelling occur around his knee and has missed Boston’s last two games as a result.
On Friday, May 13, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka noted that Williams is still not cleared to play and will be questionable until close to tip-off.
“We’re waiting to hear how he feels. It’s really a soreness issue. The swelling is gone. It’s a matter of some general soreness. You’re going to have that after some surgery, regardless of the 4-to-6 week window.
When he was going through his rehab process, he’s going to have a day where he was a little sore, and then it settled down. Even between the second and third game and the first and second game when we had the three-day breaks, it benefitted him, but when we went to every other day, he had one flare-up where it got a little swollen,” Udoka told reporters during a recent interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Pressure is Mounting for the Celtics
The Celtics find themselves in an unenviable situation, where if they lose, their season is over. But if they win, they still have to play another game, which will also require a victory for them to progress. To make matters worse, neither the Celtics nor the Bucks have won two straight games in this series.
Jayson Tatum has been a solid contributor for Boston against Milwaukee, but with their season on the line, he will need to step up his level of play, as he will be expected to lead by example once the game is underway.
“You know, it’s 3-2, and it’s the first to four. There’s no sense in being sad or putting your head down. Because that’s not going to do anything for next game. Always be optimistic and believe in yourself, believe in the group that we can win the game on Friday,” Tatum told the media on May 11, as he tried to downplay the pressure the Celtics are now facing.
Of course, Tatum isn’t the only player under pressure to perform. Marcus Smart needs a bounce-back game after his struggles down the stretch of game five, while Jaylen Brown is often relied upon to hurt teams with his slashing and mid-range scoring.
Regardless of if the Celtics are feeling the pressure or not, if they suffer one more loss they will be heading home and looking towards the off-season. But if they can win, a game seven on home turf awaits, and then, it’s anybody’s ball game.