WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics still have a ways to go before they hope to force a Game 7, but the team is taking a winner-take-all mindset to Wednesday night’s Game 5 against the Knicks in New York.
"Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?" asked coach Doc Rivers, whose team is down 3-1 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series and is facing elimination for the second straight game. "It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, 'Let’s win it to win it.' When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.
The team stressed the importance of consistency and execution heading into Game 5, but also the sense of urgency that will be needed to prolong the series.
"It's more about us and how we approach the game," Jason Terry said before Tuesday’s practice. "We've got to come out, again, Game 7. It's every possession, it's every shot, it's every defensive stop. I mean, it means that much. And so if you come in with that approach, you're going to put yourself in a position to win."
Added Kevin Garnett: "You know, Game 7s are all out. It's just what they are. They're your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can't be anything different. ... We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put (ourselves) in this position. Can't (complain) about too much."
The Celtics, who were already facing a boatload of challenges on the offensive end, didn't do themselves any favors in Sunday's 97-90 Game 4 overtime victory, committing 16 turnovers that led to 18 New York points. The C's stressed the need to limit turnovers and show more patience on offense moving forward.
"I think we can't allow their ball pressure to get to us," Paul Pierce said. "I think sometimes we're rushing. They're going to get up into the ball, they're going to pick up full-court. So, we've just got to be patient. We can't have any unforced turnovers. A lot of times we have some of those. And when we drive to the basket, when we get into the paint, we have to be cautious of their slap downs. They're not a big shot blocking team so they like to strip when you get in the lane, so we have to be very cautious of that."
But Boston also suffered on the glass in Sunday's win. Kevin Garnett (game-high 17 rebounds) was the only active Celtic on the boards, and New York emerged with a 54-40 edge in total rebounds and a 13-2 advantage in second-chance points. Rivers said Boston can't afford those same disparities on the road in Game 5.
"Their guards got a lot of rebounds, too," Rivers said. “[Iman] Shumpert hurts us on the glass; Jason Kidd hurts us on the glass. We can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the extra rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. We have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second."
"It's got to be a collective effort," added Pierce. "It has to come from all five guys. Even the point guards, the two guards, myself. We have to gang rebound. Kevin's in there working, doing his job, and we can't depend on that. There's going to be nights when he's not going to be able to get 17 rebounds, so we have to be able to collectively help him out on the glass and we have to do a better job of boxing out our man."