Celtics’ Game 7 Win Vs. Bucks Officially Puts Game 5 Collapse In Past

Boston earned a series-clinching win Sunday, five days after its Game 5 collapse


BOSTON — The Boston Celtics walked off the floor at TD Garden after a devastating Game 5 collapse and said exactly what every team will say despite the fact the numbers don’t support it.

After the Celtics went down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series as they coughed up a 14-point lead, with everyone knowing their elimination game would then come on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka expressed how the Game 5 adversity would make the comeback sweeter. Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum fielded questions, and while admitting it was a frustrating loss, came across nonchalant while not wanting a pity party.

But now, following Boston’s Game 7 win against the Bucks five days later, the Celtics have proven their confidence was not misplaced. And Sunday’s series-clinching victory officially put their Game 5 collapse in the past, a footnote in what will long be seen as a breakthrough series for the C’s.

“We were pissed off, no doubt. We shared that as a whole. We understood we had some close loses and close wins, but weren’t playing our best so we all had to take it to another level,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said after Boston eliminated the Bucks behind a 109-81 rout.

“I don’t think our guys ever got down. They were more motivated by what we let get away,” Udoka continued. “And, like I said, we made it harder on ourselves, but we all still saw the goal and the possibility at hand.”

Tatum confirmed his words from Wednesday were his actual belief, snickering at the premise that it may have been otherwise.

“Yeah, I believed it. I believe in the work that we put in. I believe in the work that I put it,” Tatum said. “I was excited for that challenge. Down 3-2, backs against the wall, to go on the road against a great team and get a win in a must-win game, I was excited for that. As much as it hurt to lose Game 5, I was looking forward to that challenge and stepping up because I believe in myself and I believe in this team. I expected to play the way I did and I expected for us to respond the way we did.”

Boston earned a 108-95 victory in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Friday. Tatum scored 46 points (17-for-32) with nine rebounds in 43 minutes in the elimination game. He scored 23 points on 50% shooting from the field (7-for-14) in Game 7.

Now that it’s over — and now that Green Teamers don’t have to re-live Bobby Portis’ offensive rebound, Jrue Holiday’s block on Marcus Smart, Smart’s turnover at the end of regulation — Udoka believes there is a lesson the Celtics can learn as they advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“I think you can take some value, and a reminder more than anything. We lost a fair share of those in the regular season, you hate to be reminded like that in a playoff game to give one away like that, but in the moment stay sharp and crisp and finish games,” Udoka said. “You hate to be reminded and have to work a little bit harder to win another game but it’s more fuel to continue to do what we’ve done all year, especially the second half of the year.”

With the Game 5 collapse in the rear view, the Celtics head on the the conference finals with a matchup against the Miami Heat starting Tuesday.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart
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