Only 4 times in franchise history has a Celtics team faced 2 game 7's in the same postseason. But yet, here we are in the just the second round already facing the second game 7 of the postseason. The Celtics were favorite to sweep the Hawks and yet that series inexplicably went to 7 games as the Celtics closed out the series with a 34 point rout.
Now, the Celtics are facing possible elimination again as they face the Cleveland Cavaliers in yet another game 7 at home. The Cavs are the reigning Eastern Conference champions and so the Celtics weren't expected to sweep them but they were expected to beat them. The Cavs aren't the same team that beat the Pistons last season. 3/5 of their starting lineup was acquired at the trade deadline so the Celtics have actually been together longer than they have.
The Celtics have never lost a series after being up 3-2. Hopefully that trend will hold true in this series as well. The odds seem to be in the Celtics favor. The home teams have been dominant in this round of the playoffs with only the Lakers and Pistons winning on the road. One explanation for this is that the officiating has been very favorable to the home in just about every series. The Celtics might not know what to do if they drive to the hoop and actually get a call. Hopefully the officiating will at least be fair.
Doc finally realized that the Sam Cassell experiment was failing miserably and played Eddie House in game 6. This was a good move as Eddie played well and hopefully Doc will stick with Eddie in game 7. One puzzling move is that Doc has benched Leon Powe who has played very well in the playoffs to this point. I don't know why Doc is playing Big Baby over Leon, but hopefully it will go the way of the Sam Cassell experiment and we will see Leon getting his regular minutes in game 7.
This game will not be easy and the Celtics need to be ready for a battle from the Cavaliers. They can't afford to come out sluggish and then play catchup the rest of the game. They need to jump out to a quick start and play hard throughout the game. They need focus, intensity and effort. I don't know about you, but I am not ready for this run to end so hopefully the Celtics will come out and take care of business at home so they can move on to the finals. Probable Starting Matchups PG Rajon Rondo vs Delonte West SG Ray Allen vs Wally Szczerbiak SF Paul Pierce vs LeBron James PF Kevin Garnett vs Ben Wallace C Kendick Perkins vs Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Injuries: Scott Pollard, Ankle, out
Eric Snow, ankle, out Daniel Gibson, shoulder, out
Key Matchups Rajon Rondo vs Delonte West Rondo was the star of game 5 but virtually disappeared in game 6. The Celtics will need Rondo to be aggressive on both ends of the court. His defense on Delonte was one of the reasons the Cavs struggled in game 5 and they will need that from him again in this game. He also has to be aggressive on the offensive end to keep the defenses from slacking off him to double on others.
Ray Allen vs Wally Szczerbiak The Celtics need Ray Allen to find his shot. They need him to get going to jump start their faltering offense. Ray also has to stay at home on Wally on defense to prevent him from hitting the big 3's capable of changing the momentum in the game.
Honorable Mention Paul Pierce vs LeBron James Pierce will need to continue to play tough one on one defense on LeBron but he also has to be more aggressive on the offensive end in taking the ball to the basket and make LeBron work more on defense as well.
Keys to the Game Rebound This is a big key as when the Celtics get more rebounds they win and when they don't, they lose. The Celtics must do a better job to keep the Cavs off the offensive boards as second chance points were killing the Celtics in game 5. Rebounding is effort and desire and the Celtics will need both if they want to win this game and advance.
Ball Movement The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man to get open shots. But then , they must make those shots. The Celtics haven't been able to score and this could be a result of being tired and not having the legs under them for jumpers. They have to be more aggressive in going to the hoop and trying to get the ball inside.
Defense They couldn't ask for better defense than to hold the Cavs to 33% as they did in game 5 and they will need to continue to play tough team defense to keep the rest of the team from beating them even if LeBron is playing well. Hopefully a good defense will key a better offense.
Play 48 Minutes The Celtics have played well in spurts in some games but to win this game, they must play well for all 48 minutes. They have to come out aggressive from the start and not let up. The bench needs to play well to give the starters some rest and the starters can't let up when they get a lead. The Cavs are too dangerous to spot a lead or to allow them to come back when they are down.
Coaching Doc needs to make adjustments to overcome the problems scoring that the Celtics have had in this series. He made a good decision to play Eddie House instead of Sam in game 6 and needs to play House again in this game. The ball movement stops when Sam is running the point and the offense keeps moving when Eddie is in. It is very puzzling that Doc hasn't played Leon in the past 2 games. He has played very well in the playoffs and has earned the minutes. Doc's decision to play Big Baby down the stretch in game 6 is questionable at best.