Game Seven: Two words that are music to sports fan’s ears. The highest level of competition, with a series and a season on the line and the true “win or go home” mentality is part of what makes following sports so exciting and worth-while. One game that the outcome decides whether your team advances and still has a chance for a championship or whether they sitting at home watching the next round on their couches makes these games very intense for players and fans alike, and is a major part of the entertainment and enjoyment that comes from watching sports. And for the Celtics, with their 82-75 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last night, this game seven on Saturday night could mean so much more than just the end of this season, it could mean the end of this current “Big 3” era with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all playing together for the boys in green.
This series was never supposed to go seven games. The Celtics blew golden opportunities in both game two and game four, and even while playing an awful game last night in Philadelphia they still had chances to win that game and come home to Boston without the Sixers in tow. Instead, now on Saturday night the season is on the line in what will be the 22nd Game Seven in a Boston Garden. The Celtics are 17-4 in the first 21, including a 3-1 edge over the Philadelphia’s finest. While that’s nice to think about, the second that the referee throws the opening tip into the air those statistics and history mean absolutely nothing for the next 48 minutes.
Doc Rivers understands what this game means. “Game Sevens are what they are,” he said. “It’s nice to have it at home but you have to go get it. At the end of the day you have to go play. You can’t just rely on (the fact that) we’re at home. I do like that we have an extra day. I think that helps us a little bit.” Rivers is referring to having two days off between games, which is definitely a much bigger benefit for the older legs of the Celtics stars than it is for the youthful Sixers players. Rivers also understands that history means very little, remarking after the game last night that “at the end of the day half these young guys don’t know I played, and they definitely don’t know that Doug played”, referring to Sixers coach Doug Collins who played from 1973-1981 with the same team that he now coaches.
The Celtics modus operandi (or M.O.) this season has been unreliability and uncertainty. With this team you never know if you will get the kind of effort that propelled the Celtics to a 107-91 landslide victory in game three of this series, or if you’ll witness a much less attractive episode like the 17 turnover and 33% shooting performance that brought home the loss last night. Most likely, what we will see on Saturday is somewhere in between both of those, and hopefully it will be enough to see the Celtics hang on to this series and advance to play most likely the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game Seven’s are a different breed of sports entertainment and the way that this series has gone, Saturday night’s game may be one for the ages. Will the veteran Celtics persevere through their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine and come up with one of the bigger series wins in the careers of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo or will the young bucks from Philadelphia get the chance to move on and play for the Eastern Conference title? The 76ers have lost their last 13 straight series after trailing 3 games to 2 (the longest such streak in NBA history) but as we all know nothing in life or in sports is guaranteed. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show…it may just be the final time that this group of Celtics legends play together.