CLEVELAND -- The Celtics, thwarted in their first attempt to close out the Cavaliers in Friday's Game 6, head back to Boston confident in their chances in a winner-take-all Game 7 but are expecting a battle at TD Garden.
"It's about just winning the game now," Marcus Smart said after the Cavaliers emerged with a 109-99 triumph at Quicken Loans Arena. "It's not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can't go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight.
"We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight."
The Celtics ate a haymaker from LeBron James (46 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) in Game 6, but it might have been the efforts of his supporting cast -- particularly after the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love early -- that ensured Cleveland kept Boston at arm's length for much of the night. A late-game barrage of jumpers by James most certainly ended any thoughts of a Boston rally.
Celtics players were disappointed in a sloppy second-quarter effort that left them playing catch-up after a solid start. But they remained optimistic about Sunday's game.
"It's going to be a lot of fun, first and foremost," said Terry Rozier, who scored a team-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting. "Obviously, we came up short tonight. But we need the whole city of Boston to be behind us. We know LeBron is different than a lot of other guys, but we've got to get the job done. That's no excuse, so we're looking forward to it."
The Celtics have tied an NBA record by winning 10 straight home playoff games and are undefeated at TD Garden this postseason. Still, Rozier cautioned against being overconfident.
"We can't just rely on us being at home for an excuse that it's going to be easy. It's not," Rozier said. "But like I said, we're looking forward to it. We've got to come out aggressive, and we've got to make things happen."
The Celtics struggled to make things happen at times in Game 6. Al Horford endured a scoreless first half, missing all four shots he took as the Cavaliers routinely sent double-teams his way.
The typically reserved Horford bristled a bit when asked about the quiet start.
"If you were watching the game, I was getting doubled as soon as I caught the ball," Horford said. "Every time. I didn't really have one-on-one position. So they did a good job of really doubling me and making it hard."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said his team was in for a challenge Sunday but expected his young roster to respond.
"This group is resilient," Stevens said. "We'll be ready to go on Sunday."
The Celtics have been a much better team at home than on the road this postseason, and players have said the atmosphere at TD Garden has contributed to their success.
"It's going to be electric," Horford said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to Sunday."
Added Jaylen Brown: "I expect it to be as loud as I've [heard] it. And that's saying a lot because the Garden can get pretty loud."