BOSTON -- The 76ers have a quiet confidence as they prepare for the pressure-packed deciding Game 7 in tonight’s Eastern Conference semifinal against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
If the Sixers are as poised with their play as they were dealing with the media after today’s shootaround, the results could be favorable.
The players and coach Doug Collins were asked repeatedly how the Sixers could overcome the vaunted Boston Celtics, with the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, not to mention the raucous crowd.
Collins and the players were measured in their responses, but firm in their belief that the Sixers are here to compete favorably against the veteran Celtics.
“In the regular season we beat them twice and in the playoffs we have beaten them three times,” Collins said. “…From our standpoint, if you have beaten a team you should have confidence you can do that.”
The Sixers understand that few are picking them to win and their response is they really don’t care.
“Nobody expected us to be here in a Game 7 with us in Boston,” said Jrue Holiday, coming off a 20-point performance in Game 6’s 82-75 win. “We aren’t worried about it.”
The players simply can’t wait for the opening tipoff.
“This is my first Game 7 and playing vs Boston, I grew up a Lakers fan and don’t really like Boston that much and I am ready to play,” Holiday said.
In what is going to be a frenzied atmosphere, Andre Iguodala put in simple terms what the Sixers have to do.
“We have to play with a calmness about ourselves and execute,” he said.
Of course it’s easy to be poised when the building is empty. Still, one gets the impression that this Sixers team won’t be overwhelmed by the moment.
It almost appears as if they are embracing the situation, and are certainly not just happy to be there. And in all honesty, it seems as if they would like to prove all the naysayers wrong.
One thing that the Sixers feel they can’t do is to get off to a slow start.
“We have to get off to a good start, maybe not a fast start,” Elton Brand said. “We have to compete and be right there and we can’t get behind (by a lot) in a Game 7 with the crowd and energy, there is no way to catch up.”
Brand likes his chances with his young teammates.
“These young guys are just fearless and they just want to play, want to win,” Brand said. “I don’t know if they even know the historical stuff that happened 30 years ago when Jr. J and Larry Bird played; they are just here to win.”