So it all comes down to this. 8 preseason games, 82 regular season games, and 23 playoff games leave us with just tonight to determine the NBA champion. (I didn’t say “World” Champion because I don’t want Gregg Popovich coming after me.)
Do the Celtics have one more big game left in them? Or is the tank completely empty, especially with Kendrick Perkins out? Can overcome the crowd, the early energy of the Lakers, the relentlessness of Kobe?
It’s a tall order. But if this Celtics team has shown us anything, it’s that they are resilient, and can rise to the occasion when needed.
Dan Shaughnessy looks at what is the last chance for this Celtics core to do something special together. He notes:
The mind games have already begun. Folks at Staples Center departed from routine and left the Game 6 score on the big board over the court for yesterday’s practices. The chagrined Celtics were forced to work with “89-67’’ staring down at them from the rafters. Sounds like something Red Auerbach would have done in the old days.
I don’t know if that imtimidates the Celtics, or makes them angry. The Soxaholix has a take on Shaughnessy’s column this morning.
Steve Buckley also has a look at the final curtain call for this group. Peter May says that this game will determine this unit’s place in franchise history. Bill Reynolds says that game 7 at home is why the regular season matters, and he thinks it will be too great an advantage for the Celtics to overcome. Howard Bryant says that game 7 will be decided by Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce.
Mark Murphy has Kendrick Perkins crushed that he cannot play tonight, and depressed that this era seems to be coming to an end right before his eyes. Julian Benbow has the Celtics making their last stand without Perkins. Kevin McNamara has more on Perkins being sidelined for Game 7 tonight. Bill Doyle says that this game will have everything…except Perkins. Scott Souza looks at the Celtics options with Perkins out. A. Sherrod Blakely says that Perkins will still be an integral part of this team tonight.
Bob Ryan says that this one will come down to big man play, and revisits the game 7′s that this unit has played together. Ron Borges has Rajon Rondo trying to view this as just another game. Kevin McNamara says that game 7 is where legends are made. Jimmy Toscano tells us what we’ll see in game 7. Flannery tells us What to watch for tonight. Kirk Minihane has 10 questions that will be answered tonight.
Gary Washburn says that the Celtics will need a legacy game from Rasheed Wallace tonight, who can justify his contract with one game. Steve Bulpett has the tag-team duo of Wallace and Glen Davis needing to step into the spotlight tonight. Paul Flannery looks at what the Celtics need from Wallace tonight. The Celtics recuited Wallace on the pitch of having a chance to win a title, and tonight comes that chance. Chris Forsberg has Wallace getting a chance to earn his keep. Rich Levine also looks at Wallace and Davis getting a chance to step in.
The Eagle-Tribune plays good cop, bad cop today, Michael Muldoon says that the Celtics don’t have a chance in H-E-double hockey sticks, while Bill Burt says that the Celtics are the better T-E-A-M and will win. Tim Weisberg says that it is going to take one last amazing effort from the Celtics.
Shira Springer looks at the approach Phil Jackson is taking to his first ever game 7 in the NBA Finals. Monique Walker adds that this is the first game 7 in the Finals for any of these Lakers. Dan Duggan has Kobe Bryant just ready to do his job.
Benbow’s notebook says that Rajon Rondo cannot disappear again if the Celtics have any hopes of winning. Doyle’s notebook says that 17 stitches in the chin from a Ron Artest elbow (no foul) aren’t going to slow down Rondo.
More links coming under a separate post, which will be BELOW this one….