Celtics vs. Warriors: Boston could still be the NBA champions, but it will have to show us something.

There is still hope for the Boston Celtics. But their best chance of claiming another banner is firmly in the past.

Of course, yes, of course – Boston could still technically win the series if they hold home court on Thursday night in Game 6 and then go back to San Francisco and then on the Warriors home floor in Game 7 on Sunday night. Post

However, they find themselves on the brink of extinction as they have betrayed the added flexibility and star squashing defense that brought them here. Shutting down, and moving on to the past, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler are impressive victories. Dealing with Steph Curry – and the real, brutal, rare, amazing effect of trying to win an NBA title – is something else.

This is called pressure. This is called fear. It’s the moment that separates the talented from the winners, the professionals from the champions. Whatever it is, it has beaten the Celtics in the last two games as much as Curry & Co. What

Especially in Game 4, when the Warriors offered the Celtics a win on the silver platter. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and their colleagues could not take it easily.

Like in Game 4, the Celtics went back and forth in the fourth quarter of Game 5, down one point after a tough contest. Unlike Game 4, Curry did not beat them alone. They fixed it on their own.

In Game 4, Boston was leading the series 3-1 and that was it. Then Curry happened, and on the other hand 17-3 Warriors raced to end this game, we sat 2-2. Fine. The series is still going strong. Talking about going against the GOATs means you have to deal with these big performances. The important thing is how to deal with the storm. But the failure in Game 5 proved decisive with Curry: 16 points, 3 points from 0 to 0 nights, and no bravery in the fourth quarter.

Curry may have hit them a few days ago, but it was just Celtics, again, panicking, panicking, and uncertain, beating themselves up. He coughed up four fourth-quarter turnovers. He fired 27% from the field and 25% from behind the arc. Tatum and Brown went 2 out of 9 on the field together. They broke.

To win the next two games, they have to do more than just overcome the Warriors and their all-time great star. The Celtics will have to overcome something inside them that has turned the best NBA team into their shell for the fourth quarter in their last two outings.

And their failures have come against a variety of Warriors teams who have competed for the NBA Championship in the past, and won – one less.

There is no Kevin Durant to bail out the Warriors on Off Night Curry. Klay Thompson has made a distinction between the mediocre and the excellent, between Dreammond Green Awesome and the like. Jordan Poole returned a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long. Andrew Wiggins has been the best, of course, but if you can’t beat a team in the NBA Finals on a night in which Wiggins is his best player, you’re probably in big trouble.

Curry Curry, yes, except for the unusually closed Monday night. But Curry has historically responded to bad games in the playoffs, with dominant, brilliant offense on effective nights.

“Now, that’s good for us,” Green said after the game, having seen the story before. “He was 9 for 3 to 0. He’s going to be anxious to get into Game 6, and that’s exactly what we need.”

There are lots of Xs and Os that you can read, lots of numbers that can tell the story of the large sample size and statistical facts of these two teams. There are game plans that Boston can make, and should be prepared to imitate that they should win what they have done well over a long period of time in a series, and so on.

But as two-time NBA champion Asia Thomas told me, when the pressure gets too high, it all goes out the window. “The pressure is real,” he said. “Some players, some great players, can handle it, can’t do anything.”

But the real answer to how Boston wins this thing is simple and twofold: don’t let Curry beat you, and don’t beat yourself.

On the first one: Good luck. Curry, as I wrote, is likely to end his career as a top-5 all-time player, even a full-time talent is often underestimated, given the fact that he deserves it. Do what they deserve. But he is the best player in the series, he has shown that he can win a game with a single hand if he needs to, and in Game 5 his teammates started offering the kind of help he used. Could Curry, as Green said, is going to be restless on Thursday night, and he will be dangerous.

But the second point explains why this series feels over: no team can win the championship if it gets close to it, it ends so fast. And the Celtics have been a bundle of nerves and anxieties and playing badly in the moments where a ring is on its end – flipping the ball, playing hot potatoes, lacking the stars ready to take that moment.

Tatum has been away from this series for a long time. The other part of Brown has many shortcomings. Marx Smart did not fill this gap. And you can only ask Al Horford and Derek White to save the day once in the fourth quarter of the NBA Finals – and once that feels like too much.

The Celtics have a chance on Thursday night, and as head coach Ime Udoka pointed out, they were in the same position, 3-2 down and facing defeat, at the start of this post-season, last year’s champions, Against the Milwaukee Bucks.

But the playoffs are about basketball adjustments, and what Boston needs to make is something we haven’t seen it make yet: the ability to capture the series, under the strongest sense of hope and fear, when the championship Such a rare thing presents itself.

We’ve seen enough to know what Steve Curry can do. The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, are still trying to figure out how to match it when it’s most important.