Originally written on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 11/18/14

The Oklahoma City Thunder are already waiting where the Boston Celtics want to go. The NBA Finals isn’t the final destination the Celtics plugged into their GPS — no, they don’t want to stop after one more win against the Heat. But first they must make the Finals before they make any moves to claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

If the Celtics do succeed against the Miami Heat, they can thank their reliability in critical moments. No, the Celtics don’t always win close games. But just as important as their record in five-point games is their response when the Heat go on an 11-2 run to take a 59-50 lead midway through the third quarter, or when Dwyane Wade blocks a Brandon Bass block attempt that could have been the proverbial last straw. Each Celtic can normally rely on his teammates when pressure rises and — cue the Rasheed Wallace voice — certain players around the league get tight butthole syndrome.

The Celtics have surrendered countless runs this postseason, but they’ve only lost by double-digits once in 18 playoff games. That was the opener against the Miami Heat, when the Celtics were playing their 14th playoff game in 28 days and had just one day of preparation for one of the league’s top three or four teams. When games threaten to get away from them, the Celtics tend to tighten their leash and yank those games back within their reach.

Ray Allen said Tuesday that whenever he looks around the locker room, he knows what to expect from his teammates. That’s important, and it might even impact where he signs in free agency this summer. (Boston Herald)

“Starting three years ago those questions were starting to be asked, with (coach) Doc (Rivers) thrown in there at the same time,” he said. “To walk away from something when there’s so much there, it’s kind of hard to do that. You look around the league and you always question, ‘What does this guy stand for? Can you go to battle with him?’ That’s the unknown. But you know what you have in your locker room, and to walk away from that is tough. Every night we give ourselves a 60 percent chance of winning or greater. That’s what we all came here for, and you don’t want to give that away.

“Some of my best times in basketball winning, I won with those guys,” he said of Garnett and Paul Pierce. “I’ll always attribute great things to them. We’ll always be connected, wherever you go. When I call Kevin or Paul 20 years from now they had better pick the phone up, or call me up right away.”

Toughness in sports is an intangible quality the extent of which writers sometimes exaggerate to fit (or even create) a storyline when one team beats another. But Doc Rivers has been preaching all year about his team’s toughness. Kevin Garnett loves this Celtics team because he sees a lot of himself in all his teammates. It seems cliche to say, but these Celtics are tough. And that matters.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jon Jones wanted for questioning in hit and run

Pitcher throws perfect game with 23 strikeouts, still loses

Will LaMarcus Aldridge leave the Portland Trailblazers?

Wizards sweep listless Raptors

Clippers defeat Spurs, even series at 2-2


JR Smith 'nervous as hell' about possible suspension

Dana White: No more WWE for Ronda Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk for 'bush league' play

Report: Eli Manning not concerned about contract

Several teams interested in Bucs' No. 1 overall pick?

Report: Marcus Smart overslept, could get less playing time

Paul Pierce burns Raptors fans with epic troll job

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

WATCH: Former NBA’er Darko Milicic is enjoying life

WATCH: Alex Gordon leaps into stands for incredible catch

WATCH: JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder in face

WATCH: Kevin Love leaves Game 4 with shoulder injury

Joe Flacco content with current Ravens receivers

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

Jim Rice to Jim Palmer: 'Quit complaining'

Time Warner-Comcast failed merger hurts Dodgers fans

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Paul Pierce trolls Raptors fans

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

Darko Milicic is enjoying life

Pitcher throws perfect game, still loses

Will Aldridge leave the Blazers?

Alex Gordon leaps into stands for catch

Dana White: No more WWE for Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk

JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder

Report: Wainwright likely done for year

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.