BOSTON -- It doesn't look great for the Celtics, who have to win Tuesday night in Miami just to see another day. Boston is on the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals, and is one loss away from being swept out of the postseason.
Teams rarely come back from a 3-0 series hole. It has never happened in basketball, only a handful of times in hockey, and only once in baseball.
That one time in baseball, though, can provide some hope for the Celtics.
Before the Boston Red Sox overcame a 3-0 series deficit against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, no team had ever done it in baseball. So maybe the Celtics just need a Kevin Millar-like character to inspire the troops.
And if they don't have a Millar in the locker room (we guess Grant Williams would be the closest?) the real Millar is here to help. It was his "Don't let us win tonight" rally cry -- and of course, David Ortiz's bat -- that helped spark the incredible Red Sox comeback in the 2004, and now he's here to inspire the Celtics from afar.
Millar, like Celtics fans everywhere, was incredulous when the team was blown out in Sunday's must-win Game 3 in Miami. As disheartening as it was, it kind of reminded him of Game 3 against the Yankees, when the Red Sox were blown out 18-9 at Fenway Park.
That loss was so bad that Millar has blocked out the final score from his memory. (That was much easier to do given the final outcome of the series.)
"Jeez, I thought it was only 16-8, it was 19?" he said when WBZ-TV's Dan Roche reminded him of the actual score. "So I can't say much about the Celtics. That's like losing by 30 in basketball."
As for Tuesday night's Game 4, the Celtics need to focus on getting one win any way possible.
"You can do as you choose." said Millar. "You can quit, pack up and grab your boxes and suitcases now, or you can fight. It just matters what type of group these guys have. Going into this thing I felt the Celtics were the best team heading into the playoffs. They were on roll, and now they have not been the best team. The Heat have been the best team, and you can't defend a team that has five dudes dropping threes from everywhere."
Millar said the Red Sox could have felt sorry for themselves against the Yankees, but they didn't. The Celtics have to take that same approach.
"It's all a mindset ... and the mind plays tricks on you," said Millar. "Do you want to attack the issue, play defense and get a W and move that series forward? But if you don't and there is no urgency, this will be a four-game sweep. It's all about those boys behind the scene saying let's go get one, because they are capable of beating the Heat one game at a time."
The Celtics' belief in themselves has to be strong heading into Tuesday night's tilt, and Millar says the key is getting everyone to believe.
"It's gotta be strong and not everyone in that clubhouse is feeling it. You'll always have a few dudes looking at their vacation, and those are the ones you have to bring in. You need everybody," he said. "The Miami Heat had everybody [in Game 3]. It's about everyone doing their role and wanting to win, and then we'll worry about Game 5.
"If you go in thinking you have to win four in a row, that is not the way. That's not the way we thought about it. We thought, 'Don't let us win tonight.' How? We have no idea, but we're going to fight, and do and do, and I didn't realize we had David Ortiz on our team that would win Games 4 and 5. Can Jayson Tatum be David Ortiz and win Game 4 and Game 5?
"A superstar can carry a club. Jayson, you're going to have to score 45-plus tonight for this team to win," said Millar. "The stars need to step up in these games."
Millar won't be anywhere near the Celtics' locker room in Miami, but if they let him in Tuesday night, he has quite the pump-up speech for the fellas in green.
"At the end of the day we better have blood, sweat, some tears -- they better be happy tears. Let's take this to Game 5," rallied Millar. "I don't care about all the reports or halftime shows, pregame shows, Dan Roche's opinion, Dan Shaughnessy's opinion, Kevin Millar's opinion. LET'S GO!!!"
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