Boston players celebrate winning Game 6 in Miami (From Twitter)
Tonight (Monday through Tuesday) at 3:30 p.m., it will happen: Boston and Miami will take to the floor at TD Garden, and each will try to write its name in the pages of NBA history. Boston is 48 minutes away from an unprecedented achievement, and a win would make them the first team in league history to win a series in which they fell behind 3-0; On the other hand, the Heat know that despite the missed opportunities, they are still in a good starting position to become only the second No. 8 seed ever to advance to the Finals.
Given the tremendous momentum we've built, the Celtics look clear favorites, but judging by the mindset of the pundits, Miami doesn't even have a slim chance. "There's not a single person in America who believes Miami can win Game 7," Charles Barkley said yesterday, to which Shaquille O'Neal chimed in: "I'm starting to wonder about Miami, is it even possible to come back from something like this and win? They lost very disappointingly in Game 6, in a way that could break a team, by 0.1 seconds. It's very hard to recover from that."
The thing is, the pressure has shifted sides again, and now it's all on the Celtics. "If Boston loses, everyone will talk about their big miss. They may have made it to Game 7, but all the pressure is back on them, it's completely reversed," Barkley explained.
The momentum is on their side, and now so is the pressure. Boston (Photo: Reuters)
And maybe Game 7 will be Jimmy Butler's chance to take what's his. After an inspiring playoff run, full of plays and manic time transcendence, Butler arrives at Game 7 in his favorite position, with his back against the wall. Butler has always been an exceptional winner, but Derek White's dramatic game-winning basket in Game 6, which came after Butler's incredible minutes including 10 straight points, wasn't the first time he suffered misfortune. In fact, of the 6 winning baskets ever scored in a playoff elimination game, Butler was on the losing side 3 times. The first time it happened was in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, when Chicago's Game 4 vs. Milwaukee was decided by a Jarryd Bayliss game-winning basket; In 2019, he said goodbye to the playoffs after Kawhi Leonard's famous three-pointer in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Toronto and Philadelphia; And the other day it happened to him again against the Celtics.
If that wasn't enough, Butler and Miami also lost Game 7 on the same occasion last season against the same team. Still, Butler exudes absolute confidence, some would even say overconfidence before Game 7 tonight. "We're going to win this game, I just know it," he said immediately after the Game 6 loss, and in his pre-match press conference tonight explained: "I believe we face the same test every time, so that in the end we will pass it. We were in exactly the same position last year, and we are capable of doing that. I just know we'll do it. You have to win a very, very tough game, in a very, very challenging atmosphere, but we're going to do it."
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The trash talk has already begun. Butler vs Horford (Photo by Getty Images, Adam Glanzman)
The U.S. expects a tough, tight game, like a typical Game 7, and knows that the players from both teams come charged for the encounter. In Game 6, Al Horford was caught in a heated thrash talk with Butler, and was filmed shouting at him, "Motherfucker loser, you can't stop whining." In another incident, Jaylen Brown was seen scolding Kyle Lowry: "You're playing dirty," and the Miami guard responded sarcastically.
One thing is certain: Whoever doesn't make it to the finals will come to it at a clear disadvantage. "This championship is already registered in the Joker's name. Jokic is going to get a ring," Shaquille O'Neal stated, "Game 7 will just be the one that decides who gets the honor of waving a white flag in front of him."
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat