The Celtics won big by doing all the small things.

Oh baby, what a Game 5. I don’t know if I could be any happier with the way the Celtics performed, especially after such a poor performance in Game 4. 

In that fourth game, the C’s looked like a completely different basketball team from the one we’ve all grown to love all year. Aside from simply missing shots, which Jaylen Brown clearly struggled with, they just looked off. Instead of composing themselves and getting back into the game, they started trying to hit home run shots. That’s not the mentality of a championship contender.

Luckily for fans everywhere, they pulled it back in Game 5. Even when shots weren’t falling they stayed composed, which allowed them to keep on killing the Raptors. The defense has been there the whole series, the key to winning is all about lining it up with solid offense. In Game 5, they were able to do that.

While the overall play of the C’s was amazing, the biggest changes from game four to five came with the small things. Making shots helps, of course, but outside of that the Celtics just made some minor tweaks that helped change the way the entire game was played.

First and foremost the offense stayed in the same flow for the whole game. In Game 4, the C’s would shift focus from pick n’ roll, to iso ball, to whatever the hell they had going on in that game. Everyone seemed rushed, and it led to them having almost as many turnovers as they did assists.

However, they regrouped and fixed that issue in game five. Whenever they got a stop on defense, it was clear that they made a mental effort to get a good possession on the other end. In doing so, the Celtics were able to make the most of their transition opportunities, and not waste so many trips down the floor. Their offense looked calm and collected throughout the entirety of game five.

Switching focus to the other end of the floor, I think the C’s did a much better job closing out on shooters. You could argue that the Raptors simply got hot in game four, but they’ve been one of the best shooting teams this season. In my opinion, it was less a matter of them getting hot, and more an issue with the Celtics’ defense.

A lot of the time, Boston found themselves just one step too late when trying to close out on Toronto’s shooters in game four. From deep, OG Anunoby shot 2-4, Serge Ibaka shot 4-4, and Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet combined to shoot 9-21. There’s no reason the Celtics should be allowing teams to shoot that efficiently from three. 

Well, luckily for my blood pressure they listened to my message for Game 5. The Raptors were getting absolutely stifled at the three-point line. Sure they missed a few open looks, but for the most part the C’s were suffocating them from deep. Marcus Smart in particular stepped up against Lowry and VanVleet. In the 18 possessions he guarded them combined, they only were able to get up one shot total. That’s elite.

Last, but not least, I just wanted to give a shoutout to Daniel Theis. There’s been some talk (from me) about potentially starting Robert Williams over him, but he showed in game five why he is the best center on the roster. While he may not be the tallest or most athletic, his ability to contest shots in the paint is unmatched. Only two of those contests showed up as blocks, but he was a huge part in stopping Toronto from getting easy shots inside. (P.s. the Sweet Chin music Pascal Siakam hit him should have been a flagrant… just saying.)

The most crucial thing to remember, though, is that there is still basketball left to play. No matter how much of a high we get as C’s fans after a huge win, there’s no game as important as the next one. Boston has to keep up their energy, intensity, and hustle moving into game six. It’s time to end this.


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