Entering last Sunday’s New York Knicks-Boston Celtics Eastern Conference first-round Game 4 on ABC, the widespread belief was the Boston Celtics were on their last legs.
They seemed old, beat up — plus, Carmelo Anthony was red-hot and the New York Knicks had their sights set on bigger things. What a difference a week makes.
The Celtics have won Games 4 and 5 and now head back to what is sure to be a raucous TD Garden Friday to host the Knicks in Game 6 (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET, with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Heather Cox).
More than that, the Celtics could make history by becoming the first NBA team to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. (The Houston Rockets also face the same opportunity against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN).
One ESPN analyst who knows a thing or two about history-making comebacks — against New York no less — is Baseball Tonight’s Curt Schilling.
Schilling led the Boston Red Sox back from a 0-3 deficit in 2004 to defeat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, marking the first time the feat had ever been accomplished.
Schilling’s message to the Celtics: “I would say the same thing that I said in the clubhouse in 2004 and 2007 [Red Sox World Series-winning seasons]. True champions understand focus is the key to everything a team aspires to want and be. Twenty-five guys focusing not on winning four straight, but winning the pitch, the at bat, the half-inning. Do that, one half-inning at a time, and there isn’t a team on the planet that can beat us.
“No different here: You get 12 guys, laser-focused, not on winning four straight, or two straight, but 12 guys focused on winning the trip down the court, that one trip, and they’ll pull this off.”