BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have gone through handfuls of injuries, watched four teammates get shut down for the season with surgeries, stuck together through trade rumors, pulled together after inconsistent stretches, and bounced back after blowing double-digits leads to win critical playoff games all in a lockout-shortened season.
This team has been tested --- by their opponents and by themselves -- and the culmination on Sunday night was a gritty Game 4 overtime win over the Miami Heat to tie the Eastern Conference Finals series at 2-2.
After leading by as many as 18 points, the Celtics surrendered their edge and let the Heat get back into the game in the fourth quarter. Enter overtime, when the Cs had to (once again) fight without their captain, Paul Pierce, who fouled out (as did LeBron James). Role players stepped up. The team buckled down on defense. When Dwyane Wade failed to hit the game-winning jumper as time expired, the Celtics had survived another edge-of-your-set win.
The Cs havent made any of their successes look easy this season, and they like it that way.
Were built for adversity, said Keyon Dooling following the Celtics 93-91 win. Weve gone through so much that our personality has taken on a resilient, grind-it-out-type team.
Now they move on to Game 5, where they will fight to play the spoiler in Miami. Neither home team has lost in this series, but the Celtics will have to strike first on the road if they want move on to the next round.
Theyre fatigued. Theyre injured. Theyre also focused and locked in.
It starts with our leadership, said Dooling. We have a bunch of gritty guys. Our superstars are gritty. They wear their hard hat every day and come to work. They set a tone and set a tempo for our whole team.
And they dont make excuses.
All that has to happen is, the game has to be won, said Rajon Rondo. We dont care what it looks like, we just want to win the game.