Celtics inspired by Red Sox documentary
2004 Series champs erased 0-3 deficit
When the Celtics went down in an 0-3 series hole last week in the Eastern Conference Finals, they were in need of some inspiration.
They turned to the Red Sox.
The C's looked hopeless. They were in a spot no team in NBA history had overcome in 150 tries. It was the same position the Red Sox found themselves in 2004, when they roared back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the rival Yankees in the ALCS, the first time it had been done in baseball history.
So, after their Game 3 loss in Miami, and sometime before Game 4, the Celtics got together and watched ESPN's "Four Days in October" documentary, which chronicled the Red Sox' historic comeback.
Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said the idea to watch the documentary came from the assistant coaching staff.
"I thought it gave perspective," Mazzulla said. "I thought it gave a sense of inspiration and hope and gave us an opportunity to fight to be in the position we're in today."
It resonated with the players, most of whom weren't old enough to remember the Red Sox' comeback.
"It was beautiful," Marcus Smart said Monday morning. "It was definitely special to watch, special to witness and to be able to have an opportunity to go out there and have our own 2004 ride."
The Celtics, of course, reeled off three consecutive victories to give themselves a chance at the same history on Monday night at TD Garden. There were plenty of reasons for the shocking turnaround. They got back to their defensive identity. They started making 3-pointers. A team gathering, reportedly at Top Golf in Miami, got them refocused.
Watching the Red Sox documentary certainly energized them, too.
"It's honestly something that I wasn't in tune with," said Grant Williams, who was 5 years old when the Red Sox made their comeback in 2004. "I didn't know about it prior to watching it and next thing you know, it just puts a certain level of fire into your heart. It's possible. It's not only something that's possible, but it's something that we know that we can accomplish as a group.
"We know that we're going to not only compete with one another, but we're also going to push one another to our goal and our success. It definitely left a lasting impact on me not just for this series but throughout the rest of my career."
Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon was cleared to play in Monday's Game 7 after missing Game 6 due to a right forearm injury.
Brogdon reportedly hurt his arm in Game 1 of this series and suffered a partial tear in a tendon leading from his right elbow leading to his forearm. He participated in shootaround on Monday without the black arm sleeve he's been wearing and looked much better than he did when he last did in Game 5, when he had to exit the game in the second half.
"I trust him and if he's healthy, he'll be a great spark for us," Mazzulla said.
Soaking it in
Before shifting their focus to Game 7, the Celtics made sure they appreciated a legendary moment in Game 6 on Saturday night in Miami, where Derrick White's miraculous buzzerbeating tip-in allowed them to see another day.
"I think I took time in the locker room after the game to obviously settle in with the team but we have an understanding that we have to shift our perspective," Mazzulla said
"So, I think the guys have done that and they are ready to go."
Martin makes big impact
Caleb Martin's impact in the East finals was heavily felt as he scored 18.2 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting from 3-point range in the first six games of the series, including a monster performance in Game 6 when he scored 21 points on four 3-pointers and added 15 rebounds. The C's continued to lose him beyond the 3-point line and he made them pay.
Martin's performances led to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's decision to put him in the starting lineup for Game 6. It gave them a different look, which Mazzulla believes is common in these series.
"I definitely think it's because a series can be long," Mazzulla said. "When you play the same team, you want to give different looks and change the rhythm of the series and change your team.
"So yeah, I do think that's part of it, and they are able to switch more. They are able to be more physical. They are able to be more athletic, and it gives them another guy that can make shots and put the ball on the floor."
Paul Pierce was among a handful of special guests in the building for Game 7. The Celtics legend, who was also in attendance for Game 5, made an appearance courtside more than 30 minutes before tip and walked out to mid-court to hype up the crowd. Former Celtics players Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo were also at the Garden.