2018 Eastern Conference Finals – Game 7

It is time. Game 7 between the Celtics and Cavaliers at the Garden. The winner heads to the National Basketball Association Finals. What more else is there to say about this series? The home team has dominated every game, setting up tonight’s Game 7. Kevin Love is out tonight for the Cavs after suffering a blow to the head in Game 6. That actually makes me a little nervous as a Celtics fan, because it’s been the guys like Larry Nance, who is bound to get more minutes tonight with Love out, who have hurt them throughout this series. Then again, those guys have only really been effective in Cleveland.

It’s a rainy and raw day here in New England, so I have my Celtics hoodie on as we’re welcomed to the TD Garden by Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. The Celtics haven’t lost at home in the playoffs, and I’m hoping that trend continues this evening.

8:34 pm – You know what, I’m throwing my Bill Russell jersey on over my hoodie.

8:39 – Mike Breen tells us that this is the first time since 1979 that both Conference Finals have gone to Game 7s after last night’s huge win by the Warriors. That’s pretty cool. In other news, Jeff Green starts in place of Kevin Love for the Cavs.

8:41 – The Celtics win the tip and Game 7 is underway.

Jayson Tatum hesitates at the three point line, dribbles inside it, pulls up and hits a jumper to give the Celtics the first bucket of the night.

8:44 – LeBron James hits a jumper to get the Cavs on the board, and they’re down early, 6-2.

8:46 – Jayson Tatum pulls up and hits a jumper along the baseline, and we’ll have our first time out with the score Boston 11, Cleveland 4 with 8:19 left in the first quarter.

9:00 – We’ve got another time out after Jayson Tatum salvages a possession by flinging the ball off a Cavalier and out of bounds. The score’s Boston 17, Cleveland 16 with 2:58 left in the first quarter. LeBron already has 12 of the Cavs 16 points.

9:09 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Boston 26, Cleveland 18 after a 9-0 Celtics run to cap off the quarter. Jayson Tatum has nine points to lead the Celtics, and Al Horford’s right behind him with eight. LeBron James has 12 points and 5 rebounds, but he’s been observed playing suspect defense thus far. He’s 4-8 from the floor, while all the other Cavs are 2-9.

Oh, also, the Cavs have four turnovers, and the Celtics have none.

9:13 – Terry Rozier loops up a pass to Al Horford who throws it down, and the Celtics have the first points of the second quarter to put the Celtics up ten, at 28-18.

9:20 – We’ve got a time out with the score Boston 35, Cleveland 23 with 6:47 left until halftime. The Cavs are 1-14 from downtown, while the Celtics haven’t much better at 3-12. Boston still hasn’t turned the ball over, while the Cavs have given it up six times.

9:31 – Marcus Smart draws a foul on a layup attempt, but we’ll have a time out before he gets to the line with the score Boston 39, Cleveland 37 with 1:45 left until halftime. The Celtics have gone cold, and it’s allowed the Cavs to chisel their way back into the game.

9:38 –  We’ve made it to halftime with the score Boston 43, Cleveland 39.

Al Horford’s got 14 on 6-7 shooting, and Jayson Tatum has 11 points and 5 rebounds. LeBron has 17 & 10 to lead the Cavs.

The Celtics were able to survive their cold stretch to maintain a lead, albeit, a significantly smaller one, as we go into the break. If they can come out strong in the third, things will be okay.

Cleveland is 2-17 from downtown, and has turned the ball over seven times, while the Celtics have only once. However, Boston’s shooting just 39.5% overall, and are just 4-19 from downtown themselves. It hasn’t been pretty, but it’s definitely been a Game 7.

9:54 – Jayson Tatum fouls JR Smith shooting a three to begin the second half. He goes 2-3 from the line, and the Cavs trail, 43-41 as we get back underway.

9:55 – Terry Rozier ventures into the paint and gets a very friendly rim on a floater to put the Celtics ahead, 45-41.

10:01 – JR Smith cans a three and we’ll have our first time out of the second half with the score Boston 47, Cleveland 44 with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Both teams continue to struggle putting the ball in the basket. At this rate, we’ll be lucky to see someone break 80 points.

10:05 – Jeff Green ends a Cavs fast break with a layup, plus a foul, and he’ll step to the line looking to tie the game. He hits the free throw, and we’re tied at 47.

10:06 – Jayson Tatum pulls up and swishes a jumper to put the Celtics back ahead, 49-47.

10:07 – Al Horford finds Jaylen Brown under the hoop all alone for a dunk! LeBron James answers right back with a three, however, and the Celtics lead is 51-50.

10:08 – Jeff Green hits a corner three, and the Cavs take the lead at 53-51. On their next trip down the court, LeBron throws up a pass to Tristan Thompson who tips it in, and the Cavs are up 55-51.

10:09 – Terry Rozier gets a steal, goes flying down the court and….gets his dunk attempt blocked by LeBron James, who then just stands under the hoop for awhile as play continues down the court.

10:11 – Marcus Smart misses a horrific floater, but he of course steals the rebound and lays it in, and we’ll have a time out with the score Cleveland 56, Boston 53 with 2:55 left in the third. The Celtics have remained very cold, and the Cavs have been slightly less cold as we grime our way through the muck here in Game 7.

10:16 – A pair of Aron Baynes free throws makes this a one point game with the Celtics behind, 56-55.

10:18 – Baynes splits a pair of free throws, and we’re tied up at 56.

10:19 – LeBron James knocks down a three, and the Cavs pull ahead, 59-56.

10:20 – We’re at the end of the third with the score Cleveland 59, Boston 56. Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics with 15 points and 7 rebounds, and LeBron’s up to 23 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. This has been a disgusting game, but at least it’s close. Hopefully the Celtics can start hitting some shots as we head down what’s sure to be a stress filled final twelve minutes. Also, hopefully I don’t throw anything.

10:24 – Jayson Tatum starts off the fourth quarter by banking home a contested runner, and the Celtics are down 59-58.

On the next possession, the Celtics force LeBron into an eight second violation, then Marcus Smart finds Al Horford for an alley-oop, plus a foul! Horford hits the free throw, and the Celtics are back ahead, 61-59.

10:25 – LeBron drives to the hoop for a layup, tying us up at 61.

10:26 – Marcus Morris knocks down a three! He’s up to 10 points and 10 rebounds, and the Celtics are back ahead, but JR Smith comes back with his own three, and we’re tied at 64.

10:28 – Kyle Korver knocks down a three, his first bucket of the night, and the Cavs regain the lead at 67-64.

10:29 – Jayson Tatum hits a pair of free throws, and the Celtics trail, 67-66.

10:30 – Marcus Smart deflects a pass, but it goes right to LeBron who hits a jumper to put the Cavs up, 69-66.

10:33 – Marcus Morris splits a pair of free throws to cut the Celtics deficit down to 69-67. They’re in the bonus for the rest of the game, so for the love of god, be aggressive and hit your free throws.

10:34 – LeBron drives and banks in an off balance shot, sending us into a time out with the score Cleveland 71, Boston 67 with 6:55 remaining. I am a mess right now. My heart’s pounding and my hands are shaking while I type. This is an unhealthy way to live.

10:38 – Jayson Tatum storms through the paint and throws down a huge dunk, and bumps LeBron as he heads back up the court! The Celtics are within two, down 71-69.

10:39 – TATUM HITS A THREE! The Celtics lead, 72-71, and Tatum’s up to 24 points. However, Jeff Green answers with a three to put Cleveland up, 74-72.

10:40 – LeBron finds Tristan Thompson for an easy dunk, and the Cavs are back up four at 76-72.

10:41 – Marcus Smart splits a pair of free throws, and the C’s are down 76-73.

10:42 – Jayson Tatum’s called for a foul against LeBron, and we’ll have a time out with the score still Cleveland 76, Boston 73 with 3:47 remaining and I honestly don’t know how I am still able to type.

10:46 – We’re back and Cleveland calls another time out for some reason. Probably to get LeBron, who’s played every minute tonight, a longer rest.

10:49 – LeBron draws the fifth foul on Jayson Tatum and will head to the line. James hits both free throws, and the Cavs go up, 78-73.

10:50 – Marcus Morris splits a pair of free throws, but Marcus Smart gets the offensive rebound, and gets it back to Morris for three…..and he misses it. The Celtics get another offensive and Terry Rozier launches a three, but it’s no good as well. Damn it.

10:52 – LeBron splits a pair from the line and the Cavs lead goes up to 79-74.

10:53 – George Hill is found all the way down the court by LeBron James, and he lays it in to send us into a time out with the score Boston 81, Cleveland 74 with 1:16 left. Fuck.

10:59 – The final buzzer sounds, and our final score is Cleveland 87, Boston 79. LeBron is heading to his eighth straight finals. I am going to go wander off into the night.

Jayson Tatum was great, scoring 24 points and grabbing 7 boards, but overall, the Celtics shot 34.1%, including an awe-inspiringly terrible 2-14 from Terry Rozier, which includes an 0-10 performance from downtown. Jaylen Brown wasn’t much better, shooting 5-18 overall and 3-12 on threes. That’s just too many missed shots in a game they could have won. It reminds me of Game 7 of the 2010 Finals, only this Celtics team isn’t ancient. This one is going to bother me for a long time, no matter how bright the future looks.

As for Cleveland, LeBron had 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists on 12-24 shooting, and he had Jeff Van Gundy saying that dragging this team to the Finals is his finest accomplishment. Great.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Seven

There’s another Game 7 tomorrow, and if I return from roaming off into the night, there will be a running diary of that one, but until then…

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2018 Eastern Conference Finals – Game 6

Tonight kicks off the start of what should be a great NBA weekend, with two Game 6s in the Conference Finals, starting off in Cleveland with Game 6 between the Celtics and Cavs. I got my Larry Bird jersey on, and I promise to try and remain level headed, no matter what happens. We’ll see how that goes.

The home team has convincingly won each game in this series, and what happens tonight is going to hinge on which version of each team shows up. Will we get the locked in, well executing Celtics, or the freaked out sloppy Celtics? Will the Cavs supporting players show up, will they play defense, or will they slog listlessly through another uninspiring performance? Who the fuck knows? Ideally, the best versions of these two teams will show up tonight, bringing us down to the wire of an exciting game. Either way, kick back, relax, and get whatever drinks you need to get yourself through the next couple of hours.

8:31 pm – Just waiting for Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson to get their goddamn intro out of the way so we can actually start the basketball game. If you’re scoring at home, ESPN games start later than advertised because they insist on giving these clowns extra time to speak to us, whereas the TNT games pretty much get right to it.

8:41 – Jayson Tatum tracks down the ball as it rolls away after the opening tip, and we’re off and running. Terry Rozier quickly goes in for a layup to put the Celtics ahead 2-0 with the opening basket.

8:42 – LeBron James gets into the paint and puts in a runner, and we’re tied at two to start things off.

8:48 – We have a time out after Kevin Love and Jayson Tatum bonk heads, and both are a little woozy. Love’s got the worst of it as he’s still on the floor as we head into the commercial break with the score Boston 10, Cleveland 6 with 6:58 to go in the first quarter. Hopefully both players are okay when we come back.

8:52 – We’re back, and Kevin Love is off to the locker room. Meanwhile, Tatum remains in the game.

8:56 – George Hill goes in for a layup, and we’ll have another time out with the score Boston 14, Cleveland 13 with 3:43 left in the opening quarter. He’s already been more aggressive than he’s been in Boston, on his way to six early points.

9:04 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with a score of Boston 25, Cleveland 20. LeBron leads the Cavs with eight points thus far, while Jaylen Brown has tallied 15 on 6-8 shooting to lead the Celtics. More of that, please.

In other news, the Cavs are shooting just 9-25 from the floor, while the Celtics are up at 11-18.

9:08 – Jeff Green finishes off an alley-oop with a nice dunk for the first points of the second quarter, and the Cavs trail, 25-22.

9:17 – LeBron James gets called for a foul driving to the hoop, and we’ll have a time out with the Cavs in the midst of a 14-3 run to make the score Cleveland 38, Boston 33 with 6:29 left in the first half. Cleveland’s really ramped up their defense. Can the Celtics withstand this haymaker?

9:25 – A Larry Nance Steal leads to a Jordan Clarkson layup, and things are starting to go down the drain for the Celtics as they take another time out with the score now Cleveland 44, Boston 34 with 4:59 remaining in the first half.

9:33 – LeBron James appears to request a rest, and it’ll lead a time out with the score Cleveland 49, Boston 38 with 2:05 left in the first half. If he is indeed going to sit out the rest of the half, the Celtics damn well better take the opportunity to chisel into this Cavalier lead before halftime.

9:35 – We’re back in action and so is LeBron. Maybe the Celtics will be able to chisel away anyway. Ugh.

9:39 – We’re here at halftime with the score Cleveland 54, Boston 43. LeBron James has 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 9-17 shooting after playing the entire first half. Jalen Brown’s 17 leads the Celtics, and Terry Rozier has contributed 13 so far.

The Cavs really got rolling with their bench players, who came in and turned up the defense in the second quarter. For the Celtics, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum have been particularly limited, combining for a paltry 1-7 from the floor.

Without Love for the rest of the game, the Cavs will likely feature more Jeff Green and Larry Nance, both of whom provided great energy off the bench in the first half. As for Love, he’s had a concussion or two before, so hopefully he’s okay.

9:55 – A pair of George Hill free throws provides the first points of the second half to extend the Cavs lead to 56-43.

10:05 – Jayson Tatum knocks down a three from the corner, but things are fairly off the rails for the Celtics right now, thanks to a bevy of turnovers and a mostly terrible shot selection. Nevertheless, the Tatum three inspires a Cavs time out with the score Cleveland 65, Boston 52 with 7:18 left in the third quarter.

10:15 – Jeff Green cans a three, and he’s up to 15 points on the evening, and we have a time out as the score’s up to Cleveland 80, Boston 65 with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. This game, this entire series, has given me a headache.

10:23 – We’re here at the end of the third quarter with a score of Cleveland 83, Boston 73. LeBron, who took his first rest at the end of the quarter, has 32 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists on 12-22 shooting for the Cavs, and Terry Rozier, who’s been great for the Celtics, has 23 points and 6 assists on 9-14 shooting, including a 5-8 mark from downtown.

Yes, the Celtics chipped their deficit down to ten to begin the fourth quarter. Can that momentum carry through to the end of the game, or is it a mere blip on the Game 6 radar?

10:27 – Jaylen Brown works his way into the paint and is able to coax the ball through the hoop, and the Celtics strike first in the fourth and trail, 83-75. Meanwhile, Terry Rozier is trying to walk off a tweaked ankle.

10:37 – LeBron follows his own miss and gets a second attempt to roll around the rim and in, and we’ll have a time out with the score Cleveland 95, Boston 83 with 6:32 remaining. The offensive rebound from LeBron was the 14th by the Cavs tonight, a big reason why they’re ahead.

10:44 – Jayson Tatum’s called with a foul and we’ll have a time out with 3:54 to go and a score of Cleveland 97, Boston 90. The Celtics are certainly playing hard, but too many missed free throws (seven) and offensive rebounds from the Cavs are keeping them at a distance, though if they can make some sort of a run here…

10:53 – LeBron knocks down a three, his second in a row, to send us into a time out with the score Cleveland 107, Boston 96 with 1:40 left in the ballgame. He’s up to 44 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists, and this series is going to be up to a Game 7 Sunday night in Boston.

11:01 – The Cleveland fans are answering Boston’s “CELTS IN SIX!” chant the other night with a rousing “CAVS IN SEVEN” chant as this one winds down. Neat.

11:02 – This one’s over with a final score of Cleveland 109, Boston 99.

LeBron James played 46 minutes and racked up 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists on 17-33 shooting. George Hill chipped in with 20 points.

Terry Rozier led the Celtics with 28 points and 7 assists on 10-16 shooting (6-10 from downtown), and Jaylen Brown was right behind him with 27 on 11-18 shooting.

The Celtics shot 50.7% overall and 42.9% from beyond the arc on the road and still lost, thanks to a crummy 11-20 mark from the free throw line, and all of the extra chances the Cavs got thanks to their 15 offensive rebounds. That, and LeBron James is a bad mother fucker.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Six

Yep, we’re going to Game 7 in Boston, and I am going to bed. Will we have two Game 7s? We’ll find out tomorrow night with Game 6 between the Rockets and Warriors, a game which I will over at a friends house for, so, you’ll have to carry on without a running diary, much like the Rockets will have to go through the game without Chris Paul. That’s a less than accurate analogy, but so be it.

2018 Eastern Conference Finals – Game 5

Last night, the Conference Finals roared back to life with a strange, but close Game 4 between the Rockets and Warriors, which saw Houston tying that series up at two. Tonight, we’re hoping the Basketball Gods will provide us with another good one here in Game 5 between the Celtics and Cavs in Boston. Each team has taken care of business at home so far, setting up this PIVOTAL GAME 5 this evening. A rousing thunder storm just rolled through here in Central Massachusetts, setting the appropriate tone for the ballgame. Can the Celtics regroup at home and get back to what got them off to a 2-0 start in the first place, or do LeBron and the Cavs have too much momentum? We’re going to find it all out, but not before I pick up my girlfriend from the nearby train station, and our pizza from the local pizza establishment.

8:20 pm – Fun fact courtesy of ESPN’s ticker: LeBron is 0-3 all time in Game 5s against the Celtics when the series is tied at two.

8:22 – I’m cutting it close with this picking up my girlfriend and pizza thing, but I’m banking on the fact that the ESPN games seem to start later than their scheduled starting times than the TNT games do. Anyway, off I go. Hopefully I don’t get struck by lightning.

8:33 – I hope you guys enjoy the thought of me driving fast amidst darkness, thunder and lightning in a race against time to gather my girlfriend and pizza and get back in time for the game, and goddamn it, I pulled it off.

Looks like the Celtics are responding to Tristan Thompson’s fine play this series by going with a bigger starting lineup. Let’s see how this goes…

8:41 – Baynes win the opening tip and we’re off and running at the Garden, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.

After Jaylen Brown misses a three, Kevin Love brings the ball to the hoop and puts it in over Terry Rozier…

…who answers back on the other end with a three, putting the Celtics up, 3-2, as we begin the game.

8:48 – We have our first time out after a Kevin Love foul and a score of Cleveland 12, Boston 9 with 6:49 left in the first quarter. The Cavs have scored seven straight, but the Celtics are playing with a better intensity than they had in Cleveland. Will it be enough to carry the night?

8:57 – As LeBron is late coming down the court after he stayed behind to bitch at the ref after he didn’t get a foul call, Marcus Smart knocks down a three, and we’ll have a time out with the score Boston 19, Cleveland 15 with 3:38 remaining in the opening quarter.

9:08 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with a score of Boston 32, Cleveland 19. Jayson Tatum’s been aggressive thus far, and is up to nine points, four of which have come from the free throw line. Kevin Love has ten points for Cleveland. In fact, he and LeBron are the only Cavs to hit a field goal, with the others combining for 0-5 shooting and one point. Beyond that, the Cavs have turned the ball over five times, and the Celtics are already 6-13 from beyond the arc. Nothing like a little home cooking to get you right.

9:12 – Terry Rozier misses a pull up, but Aron Baynes is there to tap it in, and the Celtics have the first points of the second quarter to extend their lead up to 34-19.

9:14 – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Marcus Morris fouls Larry Nance, sending him out of bounds, then stands over him and says something, and as he’s walking away, Larry Nance explodes off the floor and shoves Morris. The rest of the Celtics and Cavs quickly arrived on scene before it got too out of hand, but Morris got in a shove of his own. It could have been a much bigger ruckus. Obviously, Morris said something to piss him off.

9:19 – After a lengthy review, we have technical fouls on Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier for some reason, and Larry Nance. Kyle Korver hits the technical free throw from Rozier’s T, and the Cavs are down 36-20 as a rousing “BULLSHIT” chant rains down from the crowd.

9:26 – We’ve got a time out as the Cavs seem fired up after the ruckus, responding with a 12-3 run to make the score Boston 39, Cleveland 31 with 6:54 left in the first half.

9:37 – Marcus Smart works his way close to the hoop and puts in some sort of jumper and we’ve got a time out with the score Boston 51, Cleveland 37 with 2:25 left until halftime.

9:46 – We’re here at halftime with the score Boston 53, Cleveland 42. Jayson Tatum has 12 points to lead the Celtics, who, like the Rockets last night, are going with a seven man rotation. LeBron James has 16 for the Cavs and Kevin Love’s got 10 & 5, but almost everyone else has been a no show.

After the Marcus Morris/Larry Nance ruckus, it seemed like the Cavs were riled up, sparked by some helpful energy from Nance, but the Celtics were able to calm things back down, although the Cavs shaved a few points from their lead right before halftime.

Shoutout to Jack Sikma (even though Celtics Stats misspelled his name)!

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In those eight minutes, Korver had four points on 1-4 shooting, but I agree with this assessment, but am also thankful since I am rooting for the Celtics.

10:03 – LeBron James knocks down a jumper for the first points of the second half to cut their deficit to 53-44.

10:07 – After the Celtics come up with a steal, Jayson Tatum hits a three on the other end to get himself up to 15 points on the night and send us into a time out with the score Boston 59, Cleveland 46 with 8:22 left in the third.

10:18 – Is that the “FUCK YOU, JR” chant I hear after Smith shoves Jayson Tatum in the back and is called for a foul?

10:22 – After the ball goes out of bounds, off the Celtics, much to the dismay of GM Danny Ainge, who has a few choice words for the ref from his courtside seats, we’ll have a time out with the score Boston 76, Cleveland 60 with 1:55 remaining in the third. As many have noted, during the broadcast and on Twitter, LeBron looks tired, and as the third quarter has rolled along, the Cavs as a whole have looked more and more checked out.

10:29 – Nobody’s scored since that last time out, and the third quarter comes to an end with the score still Boston 76, Cleveland 60. Jayson Tatum’s up to 21 for the Celtics, and Al Horford’s chimed in with 10 points and 11 rebounds. LeBron has 24 to lead the Cavs.

10:33 – Jaylen Brown drives to the hoop, loses the ball, gets it back, and puts it in for the first bucket of the fourth quarter, giving the Celtics a 78-60 lead.

10:36 – JR Smith bangs knees with Jaylen Brown and comes up a bit hobbled. To add insult to injury, he’s called for a foul, and the Celtics fans unveil another “FUCK YOU, JR” chant as he heads to the bench.

10:40 – Jeff Green knocks down a three from the corner, and the Cavs have scored nine in a row to make the score Boston 83, Cleveland 71 with 7:49 remaining. It’s enough to inspire a Celtics time out.

10:46 – LeBron misses a layup on one end, and Terry Rozier finds Al Horford with an alley oop on the other! It leads to a time out with the score Boston 85, Cleveland 71 with 5:49 left in the ballgame.

10:58 – Oh man, a rousing “CELTS IN SIX!” chant is ringing out throughout the tD Garden with the home team up 94-77 approaching two minutes remaining.

11:02 – All right, this one’s over with a final score of Boston 96, Cleveland 83.

Jayson Tatum was great tonight, leading the way with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks in a confident performance. Al Horford submitted 15 points and 12 rebounds.

For the Cavs, LeBron submitted 26 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists on 11-22 shooting, and it still somehow seems like a disappointing performance from him.

The Celtics regained control of the series with another romping win at home, putting them at 10-0 in Boston this postseason. As the game went on, LeBron seemed to run out of gas, and the rest of the Cavs followed suit, playing listless basketball throughout the second half. It’s got the Celtics one win away from the Finals heading back to Cleveland for Game 6.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five

Well, it wasn’t another close game, but, you’re not going to catch me complaining too much after this one. Tomorrow night, another PIVOTAL-ass Game 5 takes place, this time down in Houston with the Rockets hosting the Warriors. Which one of them will join the Celtics within one win of the Finals?