There was a stretch at the end of the regular season when it seemed like anybody who came into the Garden could hang 100 points on the Celtics. Oklahoma City came in at the end of March and ran up 109 points, with Kevin Durant blowing up for 37. Houston came through the next game and dropped 119 on Boston, raining 3-pointers. The next game, Boston survived a rush from Cleveland but couldn’t stop the Cavaliers from scorching them for 113 points.
Over the last two weeks of the regular season, eight teams ran up 100-plus points on the Celtics, each instance a blow to a team that views its defense as its backbone and the century mark as a personal breaking point.
Being optimistic, coach Doc Rivers figured the defense would be better in the postseason. Being realistic, he knew if the Celtics wanted to win, they had no choice.