In Game 5s, the top-seeded teams in the NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder, find themselves in separate situations

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Luka Doncic tries to take the ball forward

After four games into the NBA playoffs’ second round, the top seeds from both conferences are facing different situations. The Boston Celtics, leading the Eastern Conference, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading the Western Conference, breezed through the first round.

Now, the Celtics are heading into Game 5 with a 3-1 lead over Cleveland, aiming to secure their third consecutive conference final appearance after overcoming an initial setback in Round 2. Meanwhile, the Thunder are tied 2-2 with Dallas as they return home.

Boston is particularly pleased with its recent performances, bouncing back from a Game 2 loss with consecutive victories against Cleveland. Despite Cavaliers’ star Donovan Mitchell sitting out Game 4 due to a calf injury, the Celtics relied on Jayson Tatum’s impressive 33-point displays to secure a narrow 109-102 win in their first close game of the postseason.

Reflecting on the challenging match, Celtics guard Jrue Holiday noted the team’s resilience in response to Cleveland’s pressure. On the other side, Cleveland’s forward Max Strus emphasized the team’s simple approach: “Find a way to win.”

Darius Garland walks off the court after the game

Meanwhile, Dallas missed an opportunity to take a 3-1 lead against Oklahoma City, succumbing to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 34-point performance as the Thunder rallied to a 100-96 victory in Game 4.

Chet Holmgren, a rookie for the Thunder, made a crucial play in the final minutes, helping OKC secure the lead. Despite the win, he emphasized the importance of staying focused and not becoming overconfident.

“Winning boosts our confidence, but we shouldn’t get too cocky,” he warned. “We need to analyze our performance and find ways to improve because the Mavericks will do the same. The job isn’t finished yet, and both teams are still in the fight. We need to prepare for battle.”

Kyrie Irving, a guard for the Mavericks, believes they can replicate their performance from the first round when they were tied after four games against the Los Angeles Clippers. They went on to win two consecutive games and close out the series.

“They’re playing with urgency, and we need to match that,” Irving explained. “Staying calm and composed is key in the playoffs.”


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