Kevin Garnett won’t be posting any comments from the 76ers owners on his mental bulletin board. The Philadelphia fans won’t be getting all riled up over comments deriding their loyalty.
“It’s Game 7. There’s no tomorrow,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said before practice on Friday. “If this is not the most important thing to you right now, there is no way to motivate you as a basketball player.”
The Celtics and Sixers will play tonight for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers forced the series to a decisive game by beating Boston 82-75 on Wednesday, keeping alive a surprising run that started when they knocked out top-seeded Chicago in the first round.
“I think they’re excited about the chance to go in there and have this Game 7 and see what we can do,” Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. “I don’t think we have any fear.”
The Sixers have not been to a Game 7 since 2001, and Collins said he was relying on the energy of a young team that has just one 30-year-old, Elton Brand, getting significant playing time.
The Celtics, who have three in the starting lineup alone, are 3-2 in seventh games since the new Big Three was assembled in 2007.
Brand said his younger teammates are ready.
Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday, who called Game 6 the “end of the world,” said this would be “The End of the World II.”
That’s also the mood in Boston, where they are gearing up for the last run of the new Big Three.
Pierce is under contract, but Garnett and Ray Allen are free agents at the end of the season.
“We’ve been so fortunate to do what we’ve done here,” Allen said. “It seems like we’ve been ruled out so many times before, so many years before. It’s just another opportunity to go out and be who we are, so we’re not worried about what’s beyond tomorrow.”
The Celtics will be without guard Avery Bradley, who will miss the rest of the season because of shoulder surgery.
ALL-NBA: LeBron James was the leading vote-getter for the All-NBA team, while Kobe Bryant earned his 10th first-team selection, tied for second on the career list.
James, who won his third MVP award, received 118 of a possible 120 first-team votes from a panel of writers and broadcasters. Joining him on the first team were scoring champion Kevin Durant, point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard.
Guards Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook were selected to the second team along with forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin and center Andrew Bynum.