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“The best two words in basketball are ‘Game 7,’” according to Jaylen Brown.
Even better, in our humble opinion, are the following four words: “Game 7 in Boston.”
That’s what lies ahead for the Celtics and Bucks after the former beat the latter in a series-tying Game 6 win on the road Friday night. And let’s just say that Game 7s in Boston are no joke.
The Celtics have played 25 Game 7s inside their own arena, which is more than any other team has played at home or on the road combined. Of those 25 matchups, the Celtics have won 20, and they’re hoping to make it 21 on Sunday afternoon.
"It means everything,” Jayson Tatum said of having Celtics Nation behind him and his teammates for a series-deciding game. “It’s the best atmosphere in the NBA, and Game 7s are the biggest and best games. So I'm looking forward to it, truly. Just winning [Game 6], giving ourselves a chance to go back, and this is it. Do or die.”
This will be Marcus Smart’s fourth do-or-die, Game 7 matchup inside TD Garden, and he knows as well as anyone how intense of an environment it should be. It’s certainly not the ideal type of atmosphere for a visiting team to walk into.
“It’s going to be loud,” Smart said in anticipation of the 3:30 p.m. tip. “I’ve had a few Game 7s in Boston, and I just understand and know that being in the Garden is not a place you want to be on the road in Game 7.”
The Bucks know that feeling all too well, considering how it’s only been four years since they dropped Game 7 of the first round inside TD Garden. Four current Celtics starters happened to be a part of that 112-96 win, as Al Horford and Jayson Tatum led the charge with a combined 46-point effort over Giannis Anteotkounmpo and the Bucks.
After saving Boston’s season with an individual 46-point effort Friday night, Tatum can’t wait for the series-decider at home.
“It's going to be fun,” Tatum said. “This is supposed to be fun – basketball’s biggest moments, a big stage. And what it boils down to is just going out there and having fun."
As for the game plan heading in, head coach Ime Udoka says there aren’t many adjustments that need to be made. Having played 10 regular-season and playoff games since November, these two teams know each other inside and out, which means it’s all going to boil down to poise and execution.
“I would say even before Game 7, we all know what each other is going to do,” Udoka said Saturday morning. “It's not about the plays, it's about the players and tendencies and all the little things we talked about last game: the transition, offensive rebounding, taking care of the basketball – the things that hurt us in the fourth quarter of Game 5. At this point, we know everything they are going to do and vice versa. I do think you can still make adjustments on the fly and keep guys off balance. That doesn't stop in-game, the coaching part of it, but it really comes down to who is going to play well at that time with some small tweaks you can make in-game.”
Milwaukee and Boston have made for an incredibly even match thus far, which should set them up for a legendary series finale.
As his favorite two words – and our favorite four words – are about to become a reality, Brown can hardly wait: “I expect it to be loud, I expect it to be fun, and I expect to be part of a great game.”