|Setting the scene from Celtics-Heat Game 7, where Ray Allen has it over everyone||06.09.12 at 6:47 pm ET|
MIAMI — Welcome to Game 7.
It’s the seventh such Game 7 in the “Big Three plus Rondo” era. They are 4-2 in the previous six but of those six, only one came on the road. The 2010 Game 7 in the NBA finals in which, like this series, the Celtics were leading 3-2 but couldn’t close out in Game 6 when Kendrick Perkins went down.
In losing Game 6 to LeBron James and the Heat, the Celtics have put themselves in the position of fighting history.
There have been 110 Game 7s, and the home team is 88-22. The Celtics are 3-3, last winning on the road in 1974.
What’s even more improbable is a team winning both Game 5 and Game 7 on the road. The Celtics took a 3-2 series lead by winning in Miami last Tuesday. In the 110 seven-game series, only five times has the road team won both Games 5 and 7 – the 1968 and 1974 Celtics, the 1981 and 1995 Rockets and the 2005 Pacers all did the highly improbable.
On the Heat side, LeBron James is playing in his third Game 7 and everyone recalls the last one. He scored 45 points in a 98-91 loss to the Celtics at the Garden on May 18, 2008 in the Eastern semifinals. Before that, on May 21, 2006, James’ Cavaliers also lost to the Pistons in the Eastern semis.
Ray Allen will have more Game 7 experience than anyone on the floor Saturday night, playing in his ninth such contest. In addition to the six with the Celtics, he played in two with the Bucks in 2001, beating New Orleans in the Eastern semis before bowing out to Allen Iverson and the Sixers in the Eastern finals in Philadelphia.
|Kevin Garnett on Game 7: ‘We’ve been here before’||05.24.12 at 1:06 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Kevin Garnett spoke about Philadelphia’s fans after a Game 5 win in Boston. On Wednesday, following an 82-75 loss to the Sixers in Game 6, Garnett made another proclamation of sorts for Game 7 Saturday in Boston.
“Win or go home,” Garnett said when asked about the team’s mindset heading into a do-or-die Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. “Confidence is very high. We’ve been here before, very experienced. All out, nothing less.”
Indeed, the Celtics have played in five Game 7s in the Big Three era of Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. They are 3-2 in those previous five, beating Atlanta and Cleveland on their way to the title in 2008. They beat the Bulls in seven in the first round in 2009 before losing the next round to the Magic in Game 7 at the Garden. With a chance at an 18th banner in 2010, they lost Game 7 of the NBA finals in Los Angeles to the Lakers.
“Game 7s are what they are,” coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s nice we have it at home, but you have to go get it still. At the end of the day, you have to go play. You can’t just rely on that we’re at home. I do like that we have an extra day. I think that helps us a little bit.”
“It’s only a couple of us that have been in Game 7s, so we’re not going to go on the history,” Rajon Rondo added. “This is a new series, a new group of guys that are going head to head and it’s been back and forth the entire series so it’s going to be a tough one at home.”
Neither team has managed consecutive victories in the series as the Celtics and Sixers have alternated wins in the first six games. If the trend continues, the Celtics will advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in five years.
The Celtics will play the Sixers on Saturday at TD Garden. If the Pacers force a seventh game against the Heat with a Game 6 win Thursday, the Celtics and Sixers tip off at 5 p.m. on Saturday. If Miami advances on Thursday, then the Celtics tip off at 8 p.m. Saturday.
|Big Baby: Game 7 makes for long summer||06.18.10 at 7:50 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Was the tank on empty? It was the same question asked after Game 7 against Orlando in 2009. And it’s a question that could linger with the Celtics all summer long after dropping the seventh and decisive game to the Lakers Thursday night at Staples Center.
The Celtics had built leads of 23-14 after one quarter, 40-34 at halftime and 57-53 going into the final period.
But the Celtics were outscored 30-22. And it’s the 30 points that most Celtics pointed to afterward as the real reason for the loss.
“Close is not enough,” summed up Glen Davis. “You’ve got to win it. This is the way it is. Someone else has to lose and it sucks. It’s how you look at it. It’s how you bounce back. I don’t know what’s going on with who’s coming back [next season]. But I’ll be ready when training camp comes around.”
Davis did acknowledge the play of one Laker in particular – Ron Artest. The forward burned the Celtics in Game 7 for 20 points, including a dagger of a 3 with just over a minute left that put the Lakers up six. He also ripped the ball from Davis’ own hands on a loose ball rebound with just under two minutes remaining and the Celtics down one possession.
“Artest was the difference in the game,” Davis said. “He wanted it. He took it from us.”
In the end, like everyone else in green, the next three months could be very difficult to stomach.
“It’s going to be a a long summer because of this. But, like I said, somebody has to lose and you have to take the approach in a positive way and look forward to next year.”
|TA: Hard to come to grips||at 7:24 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — No one took Thursday night’s loss harder than Tony Allen.
He was walking out of the Celtics dressing room and took a right-hand turn before bravely making a U-turn and agreeing to meet with reporters outside. He was the first Celtic player to try and express what had just happened.
Clearly heart-broken, he tried to come to grips with losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 83-79, as the Celtics fell short in their bid to win title No. 18. The Lakers won their 16th by rallying in the fourth quarter, outscoring Boston, 30-22.
“Definitely a tough one to swallow,” Allen began. “What I am going to say is I love this group of guys. It’s just a really emotional time for me. Just a tough one to swallow right here.”
Allen admitted that what makes this particularly hard to deal with is the uncertainty regarding veterans like Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace and head coach Doc Rivers.
“I definitely want to see this group back but who knows,” Allen continued. “It’s not that surprising. We fought hard to get here it’s just a real unfortunate Game 7 for us to lose.
“I definitely want to see Doc back. I don’t know. It’s tough right now.”
With those words, Allen became choked up and was excused by the group of reporters.
|Ray: ‘One of the hardest feelings of my lifetime’||at 2:40 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen called the Game 7 loss to the Lakers Thursday night “one of the hardest feelings” of his life after the Lakers rallied for an 83-79 win over the Celtics at Staples Center, the first time in five tries the Lakers have beaten Boston in a Game 7.
Allen, in what could be his final game as a Celtic, finished with 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
“It’s disappointing,” Allen began. “This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this one out. That’s probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch. It didn’t go our way.”
And the mood in the locker room after what could be the final game together for these particular group of Celtics?
“Tears, just a lot of tears,” Allen said.
And would he return?
“It’s hard to think about playing,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason. It’s tough to see it end this way.
“I’m extremely proud,” Allen continued. “We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed true to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.”
|Game 7: Buzzkill||05.17.09 at 10:08 pm ET|
Before the fourth quarter started the Celtics luminaries were shown on the Jumbotron. Kc Jones, JoJo White and John Havlicek were all presented one by one and the Garden was rocking.
And then… Mickael Pietrus happened. First he banged a 3-pointer and then after Courtney Lee finished off a three-point play, Pietrus scored on a pull-up jumper to make it 74-61 with 10:30 left.
Doc Rivers called a timeout and as the crowd sat in stunned silence. Then a “Let’s Go Celtics” chant started up in the rafters and the Garden was brought back to life. Coming out of the timeout, Stephon Marbury missed a 3-pointer and Hedo Turkoglu completed another three-point play to give the Magic their biggest lead of the night at 77-61.
Do the Celtics have one more run in them?
|Game 7: Third quarter update||at 10:00 pm ET|
After three, the Magic lead, 66-61.
Every time the Celtics get close enough to really put pressure on Orlando, the Magic find a way to make a play or two. With the score 54-50, Ray Allen had a look at a 3-pointer, but it rimmed out. J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu then hit 3-pointers to make it a 10-point game again.
With the Magic up seven, 64-57, Mickael Pietrus was able to get a layup in transition and Kendrick Perkins missed three shots from in close in rapid succession.
But the Celtics are hanging in there and they have the Magic to thank. Rashard Lewis missed a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter and Rafer Alston fouled Rajon Rondo while he was shooting a fade-away jumper. Then after Courtney Lee missed a 10-footer, Rondo drained a long two at the buzzer.
This sets up the classic fourth quarter situation. If the Magic are going to take a step and advance they will have to hold a lead on the road in a close-out game. The Celtics have 12 minutes to come back from yet another deficit and continue the defense of their title.