This is it. This is it for the NBA Finals and the NBA season. It also might be it for this Celtics team as we know it. Top assistant Tom Thibodeau is leaving to become the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Head coach Doc Rivers may retire after this year to be closer to his family and his son, Austin, who is among the top high school basketball players in the country. Ray Allen is a free agent at the end of this season. And the rest of the Celtics aging core will be one year older.
What exactly is at stake for these Celtics in tonight do-or-die Game 7? The answer: everything. With a win, these Celtics can tie the great teams of the ’70’s with 2 championships each. It would also put them one behind the original Big 3 of the ’80’s who won three titles. If you are a member of the Boston Celtics organization you don’t get a whole lot of respect with one championship; you need multiple.
Individually, a lot is on the line as well. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace are all perennial all-stars who won a title. A win tonight would make them winners who also happened to be perennial all-stars. Rajon Rondo always claims he is the best point guard in the league, and another title would certainly boost that argument. He would have two rings compared to the combined total of zero from the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and Jason Kidd.
Finally, we have Paul Pierce. Like it or not, he is a Celtics legend. He has been the best player on the Celtics since 1998 and has endured his share of bad coaches, bad teammates and losing seasons. He put awful teams on his back and willed them into the playoffs. He willed himself to victories when no one around him cared. Pierce is a true competitor and tonight we will see the best of him. There’s too much at stake.
A victory gives him as many championships as Dave Cowens and JoJo White. A loss gives him as many rings with the Celtics as Gabe Pruit and Brian Scalabrine.
The careers of so many elite basketball players will be on the line tonight. The pressure will be at an all-time high and players will be killing themselves on every possession. Tonight is the reason why every single of one of these players ever picked up a basketball in the first place; to play in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics backs are up against the wall on the road against the best player in the world with a supporting cast who got its’ confidence back. However, as Paul Pierce said about Game 7 after losing Game 6, “Bring it on.”