The Boston Celtics weren't going down without a fight, and Ime Udoka's message to his team entering the fourth quarter provided the spark it needed.T
The coach's pump-up speech played a huge role in Boston erasing a 12-point Golden State lead and delivering the Warriors their first playoff loss at home, as the Celtics won Game 1 of the NBA Finals 120-108 on Thursday night at Chase Center.
Udoka told Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports what his message to the team was entering the final quarter.
“You’re getting punked out there,” Udoka recalled. “They’re punking us right now. Is this the way you want to go out? This is not us. Let’s at least give ourselves a chance.
“If we’re going to go out, let’s go out playing the way we play. That’s all I was asking,” Udoka added. “I’m happy the guys responded.”
The speech clearly resonated with the team, given the outcome, and Celtics players believe it was the kick in the pants they needed at just the right time.
“For anyone, I feel like that challenges us to step up and stop being so soft, you would say,” forward Grant Williams told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s not afraid to say that to anybody.
He was yelling at me, [Jaylen Brown] and whoever was in the game while we were running down the court, telling us to toughen the hell up. That’s what you love about Ime. He tells it like it is.”
“It’s something we needed to hear,” guard Derrick White said. “We were challenged to toughen up, and we did.”
More often than not, when Golden State leads by 12 points entering the fourth quarter, it ends in a victory. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Celtics put together a historic comeback effort that left Golden State stunned.