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Exposing The Truth About Boston’s “Struggles” In Closeout Games

 

After Tuesday night’s sensationial win, Boston improved their record during the Big Three era to 9-0 in Game 5′s when the series is tied up at 2-2. While we turn the page on that impressive mark, the narrative will begin to shift to the C’s struggles in closeout games during these past five years.

The Celtics have gone 11-13 in closeout games during that era, including 2-2 this year. The number that will alarm Celtics fans more however is their poor track record in their first opportunity to close out a series. Boston is just 4-10 during The Big Three era in that category, including 0-2 this year, dropping Game 5 against Atlanta, and Game 6 against Philadelphia, both of them in games on the road.

That 4-10 mark is a bit misleading though in my estimation, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, if you look at how the Celtics accumulated that underwhelming record, it’s pretty important to investigate the home and road splits, as well as the position the C’s were in for each of those series. Were they tied? Up 3-0? Up 3-2? All of this matters with this group. Let’s look at the home/road splits first though.

First chance to close a series:

Boston at home (2-1)
Boston on road (2-9)

The wins at home came in two Game 6′s Boston fans should fondly remember: Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2008, and Game 6 against LeBron James and the Cavs in 2010. The loss at the Garden also came in 2010 in the Eastern Conference finals, as the C’s blew a chance to sweep the Orlando Magic in Game 4, waiting instead until Game 6 to dispatch Dwight Howard and company.

The C’s only road closeout of note in a postseason series came in the 2008 Eastern Conference finals, when they ran away with Game 6 in Detroit after struggling through the first three quarters. The track record on the road for Boston is undeniably ugly in their first opportunity, but it’s important to note the C’s had a margin of error in all of those games. That is, none of those first opportunities to closeout a series came in a deciding game. Boston led in all of those series, and if you know anything about this core, you know they are best with their backs against the wall 99 percent of the time.

The other crucial thing to keep in mind here is after going 4-10 in their first crack at taking care of business, Boston has been very reliable at finishing the job. Once they did drop that first chance to win the series, they have gone 7-3 in their next attempt to finish the job, including 7-1 in games at home. That one setback was Game 7 of the Orlando series in 2009, where Mickael Pietrus lit up the Garden from beyond the arc.

The good news about Game 6 for Boston of course is that it’s not on the road. Instead, it is in the friendly confines of the TD Garden where Boston has won 22 of their past 24 games this year dating back to the regular season. The C’s also have a tremendous postseason mark overall in home closeout games, going 9-2 over the past five years, including 5-1 over the last three years, with the one loss coming when Boston was up 3-0 in the series.

The point I want to make is this: If you’re going to look at Boston’s track record over the past five years (which is only somewhat relevant in itself) you need to take into account how well they’ve played at the Garden during the postseason during that time.

The Celtics have a series record of 9-1 during the past five years when they’ve had just a chance to close out a team at TD Garden. That series loss came in 2009 without the services of Kevin Garnett as well, putting a pretty big asterisk next to the defeat.

While all this should be noted, nothing is guaranteed here for Boston. Doc Rivers put it the best in his postgame remarks last night while looking ahead to Game 6:

“I told them, we’ve done nothing. We’re playing a heck of a basketball team. So just because we’re going to Boston, I told them, we have to play. They’re not going to give it to us. We have to go get it.”

Rivers knows just as well as anyone this won’t be easy. He also knows what happened the last time this team had to play a Game 7 on the road, the only one this core has played away from the Garden during his career. He doesn’t want to roll the dice with that again, and neither does anyone else in that locker room who took part in that game.

With that in mind, expect this group to treat Game 6 like a Game 7. In all honesty, that should come as no change for them since they’ve had to play with that sense of urgency for every game in this series since they went down to 2-0.

The happy truth for Boston fans though is that the numbers bode well for Boston to be able to finish the job without having to return to South Beach.

  • Jeff

    Need some advice folks. Lifelong C's fan from Dallas comin to Beantown tomorrow for the game. If I can't secure a ticket, where do I want to watch it with a bunch of rabid fans like myself? Thanks and GO CELTICS!!!

    • greenboner

      just take the subway to mattapan and walk around till you see one.

  • will

    head to a bar off causeway st. and you can't really go wrong…

  • CelticsBIG3

    Sullivan's Tap on Friend Street across the street from the Garden is a good spot, Greatest Bar also on Friend Street is a good spot too. These places are right next to the Ace Ticket Studio where the pre and post game shows are filmed as you may have seen before on television. These spots are the closest to the Garden if you can't get a ticket. However, you SHOULD be able to get a ticket from Ace Ticket right there on the corner of Friend Street. I've never had a problem

  • KY-Celts

    Alright, i finally have to say that this is my favorite Celtics team ever, and its not me living in the moment its the heart of KG and the team. The fact that they go out and ball while every sports commentator writes them off as over the hill, and saying that they have no shot to beat teams. The fortitude is outrageous in this team, just the overall heart that the bench players even demonstrate, though this bench lack talent its heart is in the right place and their giving all they can give and thats all you can ask. KG has always been my favorite player since he came to the league and last night only strengthens that notion.

    Plus this video is pretty sweet
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

  • KY-Celts

    Cant stop watching KG videos… the best power forward of all time (maybe center now haha) for my money, in terms of the intangibles he brings.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phuQTqZFhFU&fe

    • CelticsBIG3

      If you didn't watch this yet, its great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69pIAujrlOs. Hour and 20 min long but well worth every minute. I posted it somewhere here the other day before game 4

      • KY-Celts

        good looks on the video, watching it now… im hyped to see it since i use to be a bigger twolves fan than c's fan, purely bc of KG

        • CelticsBIG3

          Ya its really good

  • CelticsBIG3

    Another great read from Rich Levine http://www.csnne.com/blog/standing-room-only/post

  • Tom

    I do not see the celts having any trouble in this upcoming closeout game! wade has been choking, rondo has been playing like an animal and the truith is just the truth! i wrote all about this here as well as how to bet it so come by read and enjoy! http://nbawagers.com/2012/06/is-this-the-end-of-t

    • hdavenport

      "Hey guys, I just completely shat the bed on my last game prediction! Come to my site and read another one!"

    • CelticsBIG3

      Post your stupid crap elsewhere. "Hey look; I read the lines from Vegas and then just wrote a bunch of crap to fill a sheet with words about why the (insert team here) will win the game."

  • Anthony

    Anyone else watching the Spurs-OKC game and thinks the officiating is horrible, especially in the 4th quarter? Spurs got called on 6-7 straight fouls from end of the 3rd to early in the 4th.

    I'm praying the refs would call a good game tomorrow nite.

    Go Celts!! Close it out tomorrow and we can face OKC in the finals.

  • Chowda

    Kevin Garnett is what Chris Bosh wishes he could be. Garnett has incredible Jordan like passion when it comes to the game of Basketball and winning.I remember in MN he was kind of screwed cuz those owners relied solely on him, and never gave him help, fortunately Boston understands that now a days it takes more then One great player to win A Championship, which helped Garnett prove all his doubters wrong. And by the way Rajon Rondo is the next great Right Now. Pierce one of the most underrated clutch shooters in the league is my all time Great, and Ray Allen thanks for the remarkable and historical shooting, but Rondo is the reason Boston will continue to be great for many years to come, so many stars are gonna wanna play with this kid, imagine Dwight Howard~ Go Celtics

  • OKCeltic

    Planning to buy NBA Finals tix when they go on sale on Saturday here in OKC. My plan is to be at Game 1 in all GREEN. Finish it up tonight gents. There will be C fans in Sooner land ready to cheer you on.

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