BOSTON – It’s Game 7, where history is made and history is ruined. Where you make your name, which means more than just your reputation. Where systems are respected and errors are magnified. Where you go forward or sideways. While the heroes want the ball and some avoid looking.
Sunday is the time for the Celtics and Bucks, these teams that have drawn us in six compulsive basketball games. This elevated the game and left us wondering if the finalists of the Eastern Conference – heck, NBA Finals – could be such a thrill.
“You have two juggernauts,” said Celtics’ Marcus Smart.
Want to know how close the final stage of this conference is? No one has won two straight games. And forget about the sequence for a while, how did Boston get a chance in the House of Commons? Oh, yes: The Bucks rested the players in their last regular game, which helped them avoid the Nets in the first half. But inside, the Bucks connected with Boston smartly, which took them a chance to win 7 games in the second leg. And here we are.
“Let’s do it,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “It’s fun.”
The winner, or survivor, on Sunday progresses, while the loser will wonder where all of this went wrong. There’s a lot on the line: The Bucks could lose their defensive chance, the Celtics could lose the power they created since January, when they started to win more than any other team.
“The two best words in basketball are ‘Game 7′,” said Celtics’ Jaylen Brown.
Then: Which players would be the most influential in the game? And in what order? Depending on how they play the series, here are the top 10 who can have a moment and help for a number of reasons, starting with the obvious:
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
What else does he have to do? Giannis has three 40-point, 10-rebound games in this list only. He is, by far, the most powerful Buck and the first in everything. He is also a great player in this game; This game will be the most thoughtful of its actions. A 50-point lead is a real possibility, and the Bucks may need it, too, as they did in the NBA Finals last summer. For the Celtics, caution is in the forefront when Giannis walks into the fray, either by shooting at him or distracting him until he misses him.
2. Jayson Tatum
The list is being published and suspended as Tatum’s Superstar Turn; the game could put him right in the penthouse of the big players today. In addition, Tatum could be part of the Celtic Lore if he offers anything as he did in Game 6 (46 points) and the Celtics’ additions. Celtic Tradition is rich with Game 7 champions; there is no need to sign them because after 75 years and 16 competitions you know who they are. Tatum seems determined not to let anything or anyone stop him from going to the next stage.
3. Al Horford
We will all have something that Horford drank a few weeks ago because the 35-year-old has come from the abyss (76ers, OKC) to revive not only his career, but also the Celtics series. Remember, he played the highest game in the series, had a giant monster on Giannis on the list, and locked it more defensively than ever … on the series. Did anyone see this coming from Big Al? In the hands? I thought so.
4. Jaylen Brown
With the exception of his Game 1 game (4 FGs, 7 TOs), Brown has been a great supporter of Tatum and even – in short – a good player. He shot 44.2% off deep, about 7.2 rebounds and was looking for minutes to hurt Milwaukee. If the ball goes to him late in Game 7, no one in Boston can rest. And Tatum will not hesitate to look at him if the second group arrives; a clear sign of his respect for Brown. “I look forward to playing them in a good game,” Brown said on Sunday.
5. Jrue vacation
It would be surprising to know that Holiday struggled with the shooting of the series, with only 35.3% of the total, which is growing due to the lack of sharp guard Khris Middleton. But imperfection is lost because of the Holiday game changer making both sides. In this game, he has to be very accurate, given Giannis’ wishes, as well as trying to reduce Tatum. In that sense, he can have a much harder job than anyone else in the game.
6. Marcus Smart
Yes, he had two minutes late in Game 5 which bothered him for several days, and sometimes he tries to stretch indefinitely, but do not twist: Smart is a reliable two-way player when. it is very important. He’s not scared at the moment, which is exactly the type of player you want in Game 7. And he’ll be needed as a defense against Giannis as he watches the Holidays. He also started following his 5 Game downfall, 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists and – possibly multiple keys – a 0 turn, proof of his determination and grit. “I have the heart and life of this team, and I try to stay with them,” he said.
7. Grant Williams
This is where the Celtics become uncertain. Williams played very well in the first few games, then went down a lot. The Celtics don’t care if he doesn’t hit his shot (he has two points in the last two games after scoring 11.8 in the first four) but Williams should avoid carrying cheap mistakes every time Giannis shoots. Sure, it’s easier said than done. However, the presence of Williams’ defense is largely due to these effects.
8. Bobby Portis
Budenholzer has made two head-scratchers head coach: Why did he keep George Hill down for 19 minutes (instead of Jevon Carter) in Game 6, and why did he give Portis only 15 minutes in Game 4 loss? With the exception of Giannis, Portis is a very strong man for the Bucks, a running back who proved to be a key exit in Game 5. Milwaukee will want him to mix, as he did at the time (15 rebounds) and focus on his mistakes. near the circle, instead of a 3-point line.
9. Pat Connaughton
Grayson Allen has been a dangerous, non-shooting person, offending others and causing more harm than good. This only raises the need for Connaughton to become an elected assistant, whose success could put Allen on the bench. Connaughton is a good down-spacer and polite around the basket (he is a former AT&T Slam Dunk rival). He had some great Bucks moments last summer in the NBA Finals, proof that he is not scared, but he has been so-so in the list. This is where Middleton’s absence comes into play.
10. Derrick White
He has been practicing for about 32.1 minutes in the last three games – proof that Boston put him down, especially at a critical juncture – after just scoring 21.8 in three openings. White has been a mixed bag since he arrived mid-season; his shot from deep was initially bad (21.6% in his 1 17 games at Boston, then 48.6% in the last nine years) but he is active, secretive and seems to have taken action.
Shaun Powell has been playing in the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here, get his notes here and follow him twitter.
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