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NBA

The Celtics are facing elimination in Game 6 against the Bucks

The dynamic duo will have their work cut out for them on the road in Milwaukee, but that’s the kind of thing one is asked to do to become a champion.

Paul Rudder
Update:
The Celtics are facing elimination in Game 6 at the hands of the Bucks, but stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could be the keys to stopping it.
Maddie MeyerAFP

After a last minute collapse, the Celtics now fin themselves staring elimination in the face. Can they pull it off or will the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks be on their way to the Conference Finals?

The Celtics snatched defeat from the jaws of victory

On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics were on the verge of taking a decisive 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Milwaukee Bucks, then came a whole host of errors that left fans and players alike wondering about what could have been. In the end the Bucks were able to just squeeze out a 110-107 win and with that they are now one victory away from eliminating the Celtics, when quite frankly it seemed like pigs would fly first. “We gave it away,” Jaylen Brown said. “That’s how we lost it.” To make matters worse the Celtics must now travel to Milwaukee for Game 6, which will undoubtedly be the most important and probably difficult game for them in recent seasons.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are needed right now

When Jayson Tatum arrived back in the 2017 NBA Draft, he quickly formed a stellar partnership with Brown that would form the basis of a surprising trip all the way to the Eastern Conference finals 2018 - Tatum’s rookie season. Though they would lose in Game 7 to a LeBron James led Cavaliers side, it didn’t take long for them to recover as they would once again play in the Eastern Conference Finals just two years later in 2020. Again, however, there would be frustration as the ultimately fell to the Miami Heat.

As one can imagine, the two defeats were hard to take, but on the other hand were viewed as part of the process for a young team that was not short on seriously talented players. Indeed, at that point it wasn’t quite Tatum and Brown’s team although the signs were indicating that it wouldn’t be long before it was. This brings us to the present where the pair are most definitely more skilled and mature such that should they exit the playoffs now, it would have to be seen as a massive disappointment. True they are facing the defending champions Bucks, but again we’re talking about Tatum who is easily one of the best players in the league and Brown who is now an NBA All-Star. That’s before mentioning Al Holford’s sensational performances along with the unforgiving defense that they have been playing all post season long.

Where do the Celtics go from here?

Coming into this series the Celtics were heavily favored. Despite the absence of Khris Middleton, Boston actually seemed to surpassing expectations with their play and quite frankly have probably been the better side for the majority of the series. Regarding stats, that’s certainly the case as they have outscored the Bucks 522-508, but of course there is one statistic that matters and that’s the 3-2 lead that Milwaukee will now take home for Game 6. At this point it really comes down to whether or not they can get over the heart break of Game 5 and get down to business. If they are to have any chance of doing that, it will require Tatum and Brown rising to the occasion one more time.

Where Tatum is concerned, that’s exactly what he intends to do. “The series is not over,” he declared post game and to be fair not only is that the case, but truthfully the Celtics have no reason to fear playing on the road as they have already won in Milwaukee before. Brown for his part acknowledge the mountain they have to climb, yet he was not afraid. “The biggest challenge of the year,” Brown said. “Mentally, physically, emotionally, it puts a challenge on every component. So, we’ve gotta regroup and get our spirit to the point where we can go in and get a victory in Milwaukee.” Can the duo help their team to get back on level terms in this series? Maybe, but perhaps the better question is ‘can they do that again in Game 7 if they do?’

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