If the Big Three Era does end this year like it seems destined to, please lord, or Red Auerbach, or whoever it is that presides over these matters, don’t let it be at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers after the Celtics held a 3-2 lead. Don’t let the Big Three Celtics fall to an eighth seed, in an all-important seventh game, at home. Don’t let the Big Three Celtics, who fight and grind and refuse to go quietly, depart from the NBA world with such a low whisper. If they are to fall, which is likely, please don’t let it be Saturday night.
They can’t bow like this, can they? Despite having the three best players in the series? After kicking away two different games which could have seized control or, in the case of Game 6, even sent the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals?
This can’t be the end, can it? The final time Rajon Rondo slings an underhanded pass to Ray Allen in transition? Perhaps the last night Kevin Garnett chooses to bang his head against a basket stanchion?
The first Game 7 of Lou Williams’ career inches closer, a fact that stands as a reminder of all the experience that will dress in the home locker room on Saturday night. Game 7s are nothing new to these Big Three Celtics. Hell, they’ve played in five of the NBA’s 12 Game 7s since coming together in 2008. They needed to survive a Game 7 in each of their first two series together, way back in that glorious year, 2008. They’ve won some Game 7s — against the Hawks in that inaugural year, against the Cleveland Cavaliers despite LeBron James scoring 45 points, against the Bulls in that outrageous 2009 series of overtimes — and they’ve lost two — against the Orlando Magic in 2009, when Kevin Garnett watched in a suit from the sideline, and that ill-fated come-from-ahead defeat against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Finals.
“Game 7’s are what they are,” Doc Rivers said, according to WEEI. “It’s nice to have them at home. But you’ve got to get them still. At the end of the day, you got to go play. You can’t just rely on [being] at home.”
The Celtics can’t rely entirely on experience, either. Not all of them, at least.
“There’s only a couple of us that have been in Game 7’s,” Rondo said. “This is a new series, new group of guys going head to head and it’s been back and forth the entire series. It’s going to be a tough one at home.”
When Sunday arrives, the Celtics will be walking through one of two doors: one takes them to meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the other opens into a summer of uncertainty.
“Confidence is very high,” Kevin Garnett said, according to the Boston Herald. “We’re very experienced. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Confident, yes, as always. But there’s still a chance Saturday could mark the end.