With the prospects of heading to Philadelphia needing a win just to stay alive in the series facing them squarely in the face, the Celtics needed answers quickly at halftime Monday. They got the answers from Brandon Bass and the inspiration from Keyon Dooling as the Celtics outscored the Sixers, 54-35, in the final 24 minutes to walk away from Game 5 with a 101-85 win in Game 5 Monday night.
The Sixers dominated the first half, but led by just three at the half, 50-47. That's when Doc Rivers and Dooling spoke to the team about playing better defense. Ironically, it was the 18 points scored by Bass that fired the Celtics up on offense, as he outscored the Sixers, 18-16, by himself. Now Bass and the Celtics can close out the Sixers Wednedsay night in Philadelphia with a win, and move on to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in five years.
"With the same approach we took tonight, with defensive intensity," Bass said of the key to Game 6 Wednesday. "At the half, we were struggling defensively. Doc didn't think we were playing for each other and Reverend Dooling stepped up and gave us a little sermon and let us know that we have to play for each other. In the second half, that's what we decided to do."
Before Monday, Bass has seen his minutes diminish drastically in the fourth quarter, seeing little playing time as the games were mostly contested down to the wire. Bass said Monday he wasn't discouraged. Bass finished with a game-high 27 points in the win.
"To be honest with you, I wasn't really frustrated," Bass said. "I trust Doc and his coaching ability. I just stay ready and on a night like tonight, I was able to help us.
"I haven't really thought too much about it. For me, it's just hard work. My motto is 'God, grind and greatness.' Grinding is what has gotten me to this point and that's what I'm going to continue to do."