Every game past Game 5 is important in a playoff series, but Game 6 is especially important for the Celtics because if they lose this game, this series all of a sudden changes from a stepping stone to round 2 into an actual challenge to the Celtics. No one in the media has thought about a Game 7 in this series, but that could become suddenly relevant tonight if the Celtics lose.
The Celtics are slightly banged up and want more than anything to have 3-5 days off to rest and watch the Bulls and Sixers beat each other up. But if they lose this game that all changes, they not only have to deal with less rest, but also with a national media that will turn on them faster than they did Lebron after the decision. This will only be another hurdle the Celtics would have to deal with for a Game 7. The other hurdles include playing in Hot-lanta in front of a suddenly interested Hawks fan-base, and a Hawks team that really has nothing to lose after being written off.
This series is weird in that the Celtics are clearly the favorites, have a higher playoff seeding and have looked better overall than the Hawks. But the one advantage the Hawks have had in this series is the home-court advantage they have so far squandered. So although the Celtics have looked better and have been favorites, their apparent advantages will disappear overnight if they lose tonight.
But because of all those reasons, I think the Celtics will win tonight. The veterans know what tonight’s game means. They will come out and show us that they are the better team. I know the Celtics can, and probably would win a Game 7, but the Celtics don’t want to have to prove that. They want this series to end tonight and they want it to end quickly. They don’t want to give Atlanta any hope of a Game 7, and the Celtics will come out guns blazing to put this series in the rear-view mirror.
Look for the Celtics, and especially Rondo to play well tonight. They know the stakes of tonight’s game, and they should respond accordingly.
Marion Cotillard, Miranda Tate, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, The Dark Knight Rises
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