Celtics-Sixers Game 7 showdown: 3 story lines to watch

Elton Brand has looked 10 years younger throughout much of this series against Kevin Garnett.

They never make it easy, do they?

The Celtics’ inability to close out games once again leads us to a decisive Game 7 in Boston against a 76ers team that now has all the confidence in the world.

Boston had its chance to close out the Sixers on Wednesday and could have had at least two days rest before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Now, they’ll have just one day off before Game 1 on Monday – that is, if they get there.

Three things that have to happen for Boston to advance:

Overcoming injuries
The news on Avery Bradley has gone from bad to worse, with The Boston Globe reporting that he’s most likely out for the remainder of the postseason after dislocating his left shoulder multiple times.

That’s a huge blow to a Boston team that has thrived off of Bradley’s defense and timely shooting. The Celtics’ two replacements, Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus, haven’t stepped up the way they need to in Bradley’s absence. Allen is dealing with an ankle issue of his own, but Pietrus is healthy. The C’s will need production from one or the other tomorrow.

Get in the paint
Poor Doc Rivers.

He’s making the most of what he has, but with Ryan Hollins and Greg Stiemsma as the only backup centers to Kevin Garnett, times are tough. Not only could the Celtics not stop Philly down low in Game 6 — whether it was a Sixers big or a guard — they couldn’t establish a presence on the offensive end either.

They were outscored in the paint 42-16. Kevin Garnett must also take some blame. He took 20 shots in Game 6.

Guess how many came in the paint? Zero. Time to establish something down low.

What’s at stake?
Saturday could very well be the last game of the Big Three era.

Kevin Garnett becomes a free agent, as does Ray Allen. Danny Ainge has reportedly tried trading Pierce in the past, and we all know he’s tried trading Rajon Rondo.

The C’s play their best basketball when their backs are against the wall. Being in front of the home crowd should push them over the top and on to the next round. But then again, who can figure this team out?


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