The Boston Celtics are home for good and hope that tonight’s Game 6 match up against the Los Angeles Lakers will be their last of the season. A win would mean the return to glory in capturing the franchises 17th NBA title, a quest they have been on for 22 years. While Boston sits one win away from making history, the Lakers hope to extend the series to a Game 7 which would be Thursday night in Boston and will also try to make history in becoming the first team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win a title.
The story of the Finals so far has been the leadership of Celtics veteran guard Paul Pierce. Pierce is averaging 22.8 points a game in the finals as well as 5.6 assists. Those numbers have lifted the play of some of his teammates including Rajon Rondo who had a 16 assist effort in the Celtics Game 2 victory. Leon Powe also had a break out Game 2 performance netting 21 points in only 15 minutes of action.
Besides elevating his teammates play, Pierce has done an excellent job of shutting down the NBA’s best player and MVP in Kobe Bryant. In the 15 playoff games leading up to the Finals, Bryant averaged 31.9 points a game. In the Finals, Pierce is holding Bryant to 26.4 points a night and about 7 of those points are coming from the free throw line each game. On the series, Bryant is shooting 42% from the field, which is considerably down from his first three playoff series against the West in which he shot 169 of 332 from the floor, good for 51%. Pierce’s presence can certainly be felt.
“We’re one up, with two games to go at home,” said Pierce, who dropped 38 points in Game 5. “It still feels like we have the advantage, and I do feel like we’re the better team.”
Boston hopes to see Ray Allen stay hot from behind the arc. The sharpshooter has connected on 15 of 33 shots from 3-point land in the Finals, a 45% clip.
The Celtics were without starting center Kendrick Perkins in the Game 5 loss in LA due to a shoulder injury he suffered earlier in the series. His presence was missed as the Lakers were able to capitalize multiple times on second chance points in the paints. He will be a game time decision tonight but his team is hoping he’s ready to go.
“Perk is a physical guy,” said teammate Kevin Garnett. “He plays the post better than anybody in this league. That’s what he does. When you lose a key guy, you’re losing something.”
Garnett himself is still looking for a breakout game in the Finals and what a better time to have the performance than in a potential championship clincher. Versus L.A., KG is averaging only 16.6 points a night compared to the 21.1 he had been averaging in the three playoff series against the Eastern Conference teams (ATL, CLE, DET). He called his Game 5 performance “disgusting” and vowed that Game 6 would be a different story as he and the rest of the Celtics are excited to return home.
“It’s going to be like coming into the Amazon, into the jungle,” he said. “I look forward to coming home and playing.”
The entire city of Boston is fired up for tonight’s Game 6 match up. For the first time in over 20 years a local team has the chance to capture a league title in their hometown. The 04′ and 07′ Red Sox won the World Series on the road, and with the rotating Super Bowl locations the Patriots weren’t even close to New England for their three titles in 01′, 03′ and 04′.
Tonight has the potential to be something amazing. Hopefully, Boston is the city where amazing happens and the Celtics long quest for Green 17 becomes a reality. With a win tonight the Celtics will get their 17th banner in game 6 on 6/17.