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BOSTON (CBS) – Nothing has come easy for the Boston Celtics this season.
They limped through the first half of the regular season, only to have one of the best second halves in the NBA.
They clawed their way through their first two playoffs matchups against the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers.
They had a chance to dispatch the Miami Heat in six games, avoiding another trip to South Beach for a deciding Game 7.
But that would be too easy.
Not the Celtics style.
“This team has been about adversity all year long,” said Paul Pierce, who had an abysmal night going 4-for-18 from the floor.
“This isn’t going to be anything new. It’s been tough for us all year long to get to the point where we would be at, and why wouldn’t it be tough now? Winning is hard. Trying to get to the Finals is hard, and this is as hard as it gets. And I think we are prepared for it.”
“Nothing has been easy up until this point,” said Kevin Garnett.
“Can’t expect it now. It is what it is. We’re going to take these cards and play them. Lot of confident guys in here. Lot of guys who’ve been through Game 7’s. Lot of experienced guys. We’re going to lean on that and we’re going to fight. A bunch of fighters in this locker room.”
The Celtics could not get into a rhythm from the start of their 98-79 Game 6 loss, and could only sit back and watch as LeBron James hit nearly everything he put up. James played one of – if not the best – games of his career, scoring 45 points on 19-for-26 shooting from the floor.
The Celtics had no answer for James, nor did they have one to get their offense going. Now they have to get it figured out for Saturday night.
“Honestly, that was a great opportunity, but we have another opportunity,” head coach Doc Rivers said.
“We get to play another game, Game 7. I would say most of the people in this room would have said, ‘Wow, they’re going to get to Game 7. We’ll take it.’ That’s the way we have to view it. We won a game at theirs, they won here. Now we get to play for all the marbles. This team has not done it the easy way this year. Maybe this is justified for us — go in there and do it.”
Under Rivers, the Celtics are just 3-12 in their first chance closing out a series. However, when given another opportunity, Boston is 7-3.
Those numbers don’t mean anything, but Rivers is confident his veteran group will close things out in Miami.
So confident, the message “pack for a week” was written on the dry-erase board in the locker room following Thursday’s loss.
“They’re not just going to pack for (Game 7),” Rivers said, expecting to catch a flight to Oklahoma City once they take care of business in Miami.
“They’re going to bring suits for Tuesday and they’re going to bring suits for Thursday. And that’s the way we’re going to plan to do it.”
Packing for a week is not an easy thing to do.
Winning a Game 7 in Miami will be even tougher.
But that’s the way the Celtics have done it all season.