Perhaps Sixers forward Evan Turner put it best this morning when he said: "You don't have anything to lose. What do you have to lose?"
Turner was answering a question that was centered around the question of how much pressure there was leading into tonight's Game 7 against teh Boston Celtics at TD Garden. His words were echoed by mostly all the players, as they know they aren't expected to win tonight against the veteran Celtics. But the Sixers also weren't even expected to be in this series, let alone on the fringe of winning it. They know it and they will use it to their advantage. Though none would come out and say it, the pressure to win is probably more on the Celtics than the surprising Sixers.
"I have so much respect for our guys and how they’ve grown to win these pressure games," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "In the regular season there’s a little pressure, but we couldn’t win any close games in the regular season. But all of the sudden when the pressure gets more our guys have been able to compete and do that, whether it be hitting shots or free throws or getting defensive stops. That’s the fun thing for me to watch, that the pressure has been ratcheted up a little bit and our guys have really met the challenge and I really like that about our guys."
While the talk has surrounded the ghosts of Sixers-Celtics past and all the historical playoff games the two have played, Collins and his team are confident going into tonight. And why shouldn't they be? They won once in this series in Boston and have had decent success against the Celtics this season.
I think we’ve been very aggressive in here," said Collins. "If you look at the scores, in Game 1 we lost by a point, Game 2 we won by a point. Game 5 we were in good position at the 6:56 mark (of the third quarter) and at the 1:39 mark we’re down three. We’ve won one game, we’ve lost by a point and they beat us in here by double digits but we just let it get away from us at the end of the third quarter. I think our guys feel confident. We also beat them twice in the regular season."
Tonight, of course, would be the biggest win the Sixers could post against the Celtics this season. One of the biggest of all time.
NOTES:Sixers forward Elton Brand said that his ailing shoulder/neck is feeling better than it has all series. The team flew in a chriopractor with them to Boston, and Brand has been a regular visitor...Boston guard Keyon Dooling did not practice with the team on Friday due to an illness, but the reports coming out of the Celtics shootaround at their practice facility was that Dooling participated today...If the Sixers win, they will fly home tonight, gather for a short time tomorrow and then fly down to Miami for Game 1, which will be at 8:30 on Monday.