The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers square off with a trip to South Florida on the line in a Game 7 on Saturday night in Boston. Unlike the case in most other professions, whichever club is heading down to Miami is doing so to keep on working rather than relax. Of course, the losing side is also free to hit South Beach for some R&R. Maybe J.R. Smith will pick them up at the airport?
Eastern Conference Semifinal
TD Garden, Boston, MA
8:00 p.m. EST
With the back-and-forth series having come down to a winner-take-all Game 7, each team thinks that it has the key E-ttribute on its side. Paul Pierce and the veteran Celtics hope that experience will be the deciding factor. This isn't the first rodeo for Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or even Rajon Rondo. On the other bench, Sixers coach Doug Collins is banking on his youthful team's energy. Aside from Elton Brand, the key contributors are young and should have little trouble bouncing back for another game.
The 76ers forced this decisive contest with a 82-75 win in Philly in front of delirious home crowd, stirred both by the appearance of Allen Iverson and the fact that Garnett had labeled them as fair weather fans. Can the Sixers win two in a row? Or will Boston's home crowd see that they defend home court.
Energy or experience? Which prevails?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT GAME 7:
|@ ESPNStatsInfo : 76ers players have a combined 59 career minutes played in Game 7s. Celtics players have 925 minutes.|
The young Sixers are coming in to Boston looking to become just the second No. 8 seed to reach a conference final. The last time it happened as also at the end of a shortened season. Can this group do what the '99 Knicks accomplished? Actually.. they could go on and lose to the Spurs in the NBA Finals if they really want to duplicate the feat.
As Mike Breen hammers home immediately on the ABC/ESPN broadcast, this could be the final game of the Garnett-Allen-Pierce trio. What will be the legacy of the "Big Three" if they go out tonight? Does a win here actually make a difference in that regard?
|@ nikebasketball : "Every Game 7 is an individual game in itself, and the game will dictate if experience comes into play or not." - Doc Rivers|
|@ Pflanns : Here's my one-word key for tonight: Rondo|
Crowd chanting "Let's Go Celtics" as starters hit the floor. Will this game join the classics bouts between these two clubs?
Celtics control. Rondo walks it up.
Pierce floats up a soft runner from mid range and it gets the roll, bounce. 2-0 to Boston.
For Boston, this is a last stand of some sort.
Pierce gets on to a loose ball after Turner turned it over. He's on the run and Iggy is whistled as he stripped him at the rim.
|@ NBAGuru : This building is LOUD. Can't top a Game 7 atmosphere in Boston.|
Rondo gets end to end and goes for a little bit too much flash he is tried to lay it in with scoop and bricked the lay up.
Bass is on the scoreboard, the crowd is loud and it's zip for 76ers so far.
The storm is all around Philly. It's a mix of DEE-FENSE chants and midrange jumpers from Garnett and Bass. It's 10-2 to Boston early.
Philly is shooting 1 for 7 to start while Boston has nailed 4 of 7 shots. This includes Rondo whiffing on an open layup.
It's not pretty for the 76ers out of that timeout but they're scrapping for rebounds and hustling for loose balls to keep this possession alive. Brand is eventually fouled and sinks to FT. It's 10-4.
KG and Iggy trade deep two-point misses.
Rondo finds Garnett running the floor and bounces a perfect pass at pace. Ticket is fouled by Brand and two shots are coming... made.. made...
|@ DanLevyThinks : Iguodala missed a three, didn't follow his shot, lollygaged back on defense and let Garnett cut past him for a dunk attempt. #Sixers|
Brand sinks a baseline jumper to close within 12-6 but the road team is not throwing them up with much accuracy or authority. Everything seems a bit rushed, not confident. They're 2-12 thus far.
|@ noamschiller : Hawes is out now. Collins just had to make sure he has no minutes with Lavoy Allen and KG on the floor, because only Lavoy can guard him.|
Elton hits his third shot from the field and has 6 of the 8 points for Philly. It's 13-8 as the game gets down to four minutes.
Lou Williams doing what he does, pushing pace and drawing fouls. In transition he goes right for the rim and draws a foul on Rondo. That's 2 for Rondo. And it's a one-possession game, 13-10.
Bad bounce for Philly gets the Celtics on the break. Rondo makes no mistake here. It's 15-10. And, yes, Rondo is playing with 2 fouls.
Another bucket from Brand (he's got 8) and the Sixers are back within 15-12. Despite poor team shooting, Brand has helped No. 8 seed weather the storm. KG going to the bench for rest has also helped..
|@ Trags : Rondo appeared to injure himself on the landing after the layup. #Sixers shooting just 4/17 #Celtics 5/14|
Michael Pietrus attacks the paint, sliding between Lavoy and Brand for a one-handed slam with authority. 17-13 to Boston.
Bass hits another shot to keep Celtics in driver's seat. KG comes back out for the last minute of the first quarter.