Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers
May 20, 2012, 7:18 pm

WALTHAM At this point, there's no point in reminding the Boston Celtics that Game 5 is, you know, kind of a big deal in this series.

With the series knotted up at 2-2, Game 5's winner will be in great position to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where a sure-to-be-bludgeoned Miami-Indiana series winner will be.

But if you expect Celtics coach Doc Rivers to deliver a Knute Rockne-esque speech to his players leading into Monday's Game 5 tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers . . . that's just not going to happen.

"I don't think I have to talk about it a whole bunch," Rivers said. "It's a swing game; but it's a swing game for both teams. Game 5s and Game 7s are pretty much the same."

With the one difference being a Celtics loss in Game 5 means they'd have to win the final two games of the series, the first on the road and another at home.

That would flow well with the team's season-long knack for making most situations tougher than they should be.

But there's no "maybe next game" following a Game 7 loss.

The season is over and you're making plans for offseason beach shores, and for some of the Celtics, offseason surgery.

Boston wants no part of that, which is why Monday night's Game 5 battle should be one of the C's better performances this season.

Having an extra day in between games certainly bodes well for the many Celtic players dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises.

But that extra time off means one more day to think about the opportunity they let slip away in Game 4.

"If we had played today, it would have been over, gone," Rivers said when asked about whether the team would have trouble moving past the Game 4 loss. "We don't play today, so that may allow it to stick a little longer. But for the most part, you get over it. You have no choice."

Indeed, the Celtics have had their share of tough defeats both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

More often than not, they don't just bounce back with a better performance.

They respond with some of their best individual and collective performances, the kind of track record that leads one to expect a Celtics team in Game 5 to play at an extremely high level.

"A lot of it is mental, preparation, understanding what it takes," said Paul Pierce. "All of those things, a combination of those things, really helps us out being a veteran ball club."