Celtics look to make Game 7 history

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Celtics look to make Game 7 history

MIAMI The list of accomplishments by the Boston Celtics' Big Three is lengthy, but there is one thing they've yet to do - win a Game 7 on the road.

In fact, the most storied franchise in the NBA has only achieved that feat three times with the most recent occurrence being in 1974.

A chance to rewrite history.

A chance to add yet another chapter to what has been a page-turner of a season for this veteran, battle-tested Celtics team.

It all brings us to this point.

Game 7.

In Miami.

The winner goes on.

The loser goes home.

"It's what you dream about," said Heat forward Udonis Haslem. "It's going to be a battle. It's going to be the toughest game we've had all playoffs and we've got to be ready for it."

Win or lose, the Celtics will be boarding a plane after Saturday's game.

It's just a matter of whether it'll be to Oklahoma City for the start of the NBA Finals, or back to Boston following a season-ending loss.

"It's Game 7 it's a win or go home," said Boston's Mickael Pietrus. "I'm not interested in going fishing. I'm not a big fishing guy; I'm more of an OKC guy."

Pietrus, in his first year with the Celtics, is the only player to have emerged victorious on the road in a series-clinching Game 7.

He did so as a member of the Orlando Magic in 2009, when they handed the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics a 101-82 defeat on the Garden floor.

In that game, Pietrus had a then-career playoff high 17 points.

The Celtics are one of just two teams to have lost more than one Game 7 at home since 2000.

The other team?

That would be the Miami Heat, which dropped an 88-82 Game 7 loss at home to Detroit in 2005, and suffered an 83-82 Game 7 home defeat to New York in 2000.

And that last loss to the Pistons was in the Eastern Conference finals - the exact scenario facing the Heat on Saturday.

While history may at times be an indicator of present or future results, all bets are off in this series.

After both teams held serve at home through the first four games, Games 5 and 6 were won by the road team.

"Whatever it takes," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "This is an unconventional series."

Which is why despite a punch-to-the-gut loss at home in Game 6, the Celtics come into this decisive Game 7 with the confidence that they can add another first to the list of accomplishments during the Big Three era - win a Game 7 on the road.

"Adversity has been our theme (all season)," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, who was a member of the Miami Heat team that lost Game 7 at home to Detroit in 2005. "We're confident and we feel like we can win in Miami. We know it's going to take a team effort. It's going to take a lot of aggressiveness, and we just have to go out there and grind it out the way we know we are capable of."

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.