Strength, aggressiveness, intensity, physicality… After each defeat, the vocabulary of the two coaches revolves around these four words. Ime Udoka had explained after Game 2 that his players had not been able to respond to the aggressiveness of the Warriors. Back in Boston, we knew that the Celtics would enter the field with tenfold determination, pushed by the 19,580 fans at TD Garden.
” Each venue and each audience is different. Here you could feel that they were really behind their team, explained Gary Payton II to us between the two matches. ” Yesterday they were loud, they were mean, and our only goal must be to stick together to try and silence them.. »
“The problem is not necessarily to get to the same level of intensity but to be able to maintain this level of effort throughout the match”
So we can’t put Golden State’s bad start to the game on account of the surprise. The Warriors, who have won an away game 26 straight series, know how to cool opposing fans. They knew what awaited them on Wednesday, and yet they started the meeting in slow motion. In the rush on offense, loose on defense, they gave the baton to be beaten and the Celtics did not hesitate, leading by 11 points after the first quarter.
You’d think being in the NBA Finals was enough to raise your level of focus and intensity, but even Boston players agreed that’s a lot easier said than done.
” You know, the playoffs are a marathon, and it’s hard to stay mentally focused in every game and try to set the tone from the start.,” said Payton Pritchard after Thursday’s practice.
Grant Williams also preferred to answer our question by pointing out that this battle between the two teams is a long fist duel.
” The problem is not necessarily to get to the same level of intensity but to be able to maintain this level of effort throughout the match. It’s as if you were in a boxing match. If you take a hit first, your head spins but you can pull yourself together. On the other hand, if you continue to take blows, after a while you end up cracking, explains the Boston winger.
“You have to raise your intensity even more so you don’t get caught by surprise”
During Game 3, the Warriors cashed without cracking in the first half before making their effort in the third quarter to pass. They paid for these efforts late in the game, however. On Wednesday, the Celtics were the most determined and intense formation, but their run in the playoffs shows us that they also have difficulty maintaining the same level of intensity after a success.
” The most important thing is to be aware of the situation. Of course you can and you must react after a defeat but how to keep this same approach if you have the wind in your sails? asks Grant Williams. ” It’s something you learn and it’s hard to master. »
” The difficulty does not come from having or not having the will to play hard but from understanding that if your opponent has lost, they will start strong, and you must raise your level of intensity even more so as not to be taken by surprise.,” he reasons. ” The goal is to become a team that behaves the same way regardless of the outcome of the previous match. »
The roles are again reversed. Back to the wall, we know that the Warriors will approach the meeting with more ferocity than in Game 3. Strength and aggression“said Draymond Green during his press conference to give solutions to the defensive ills of the Warriors in their last defeat.
“I often ask myself this question. And I still haven’t found an answer. »
Stephen Curry was going in his direction by announcing that Golden State had to “ be the most physical team (Friday), to make several defensive efforts, and be incisive in attack. “If his Warriors comply, the double MVP has no doubt that he and his teammates will return to San Francisco tied (2-2) and therefore having recovered the advantage of the field, lost during the Game 1 of these Finals.
It is therefore up to the Celtics to anticipate the revolt of the Warriors and to be ready for the fight tonight, with all their public behind them. We could witness a balanced entry fight and it would therefore be difficult to find a definitive answer to our question.
Even Steve Kerr was puzzled when it came to comparing his team’s start to the game with their famous third quarters. After all, if the Warriors can start strong in the second half, he should be able to do the same when the score is 0-0.
” I often ask myself this question, admitted Steve Kerr. ” And I still haven’t found an answer. »
Interview in Boston