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."

Highlights: Atlanta Hawks 114, Boston Celtics 98

Highlights: Atlanta Hawks 114, Boston Celtics 98

Tempers flared between the Celtics and Hawks, but Atlanta was able to get the best of Boston as they get the victory in the TD Garden.

Blakely: On surface Bogut makes sense for Celtics, but it comes down to chemistry

Blakely: On surface Bogut makes sense for Celtics, but it comes down to chemistry

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics got their butts kicked (again) on the boards Monday night by the Atlanta Hawks who defeated them 114-98.

The Celtics get their butts kicked most nights on the boards, and yet still find a way to win more often than not.

That’s why the possibility of adding Andrew Bogut who was bought out by Philadelphia is so intriguing.

Once he clears waivers on Wednesday, he’ll officially be a man in high demand with teams trying to show him love as if he was Kevin Durant or LeBron James.

But as much as the 31-year-old center on paper seems like a good addition to the Celtics roster because of his rebounding prowess and rim protection on defense, here’s what you have to keep in mind with Bogut or any other player Danny Ainge and the C's front-office brass decides to bring through that door.

Whatever team a new guy joins, he’ll look to play decent minutes and showcase his skills with unrestricted free agency around the corner this summer.

As far as Bogut is concerned, he's one of the more underrated members of Golden State's title squad in 2016.

Draymond Green's all-around game, Steph Curry’s 3-point bombs and Klay Thompson’s two-way talent were all key to the Warriors winning a title two years ago. But lost in their success among fans was Bogut’s defense which covered up for a lot of mistakes, miscues and blown assignments.

Whatever team Bogut signs with, ideally he would be looking to provide that same interior presence.

But here’s another issue.

Adding Bogut means waiving a player, most likely a young player that the Celtics will have essentially decided to give up on.

Since Bogut is a big, the logical target of being waived is Jordan Mickey.

The second-round pick from 2015 has shown improvement, but not nearly enough to garner steady minutes or even sporadic time on this roster.

Amir Johnson and Al Horford are the starters, with Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko rounding out their four-man big rotation so they're not going anywhere.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens typically plays those four bigs every night, so the idea of adding a fifth to the regular rotation doesn’t make sense.

Will one of those four be cool with not playing some nights or having their minutes severely carved up?

Would Bogut be cool with sometimes playing in games, or sometimes playing the role of waving a towel supporting his team from the bench?

And how does his presence affect chemistry which is a major deal for this team and its success this season.

Boston’s bigs in terms of rebounding, have not been good all season.

We can all agree on that.

And yet despite those struggles, they have the second-best record in the East (38-22) along with being a top-5 or top-6 team record-wise in the NBA.

They’re able to win because they have solid talent and Teflon-strong bonds to where they don't just play with each other, but for each other every night. 

We have seen stretches this season when the minutes have been cut or wiped out altogether for rotation players like Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko and Jaylen Brown.

And yet during the time when they are not playing as much, you never hear any public grumbling or private bickering among themselves or to the media.

There is a high level of accountability with Brad Stevens-coached teams that if you’re doing your job well, you’ll play. If not, your minutes might go to a teammate.

The best example of this came earlier this season when Gerald Green was essentially a practice player until Christmas Day when he came up big in Boston’s win over the New York Knicks.

Green saw more minutes going forward, but soon found himself struggling to get on the floor afterwards on some nights and the man whose minutes he took – Rozier – was back in the playing mix. 

During those times when Rozier wasn't playing, he said Green was a fixture in his ear, offering words of encouragement regardless of whether he was playing a lot or not at all. 

“Gerald’s always encouraging me, encouraging the young guys to just keep working, be patient and when your time comes, run with it,” Rozier recently told CSNNE.com. “He’s been a great vet for us young guys.”

And while Bogut wouldn’t come in looking to mess with the team’s chemistry, that doesn’t matter.

Anytime a new guy is added to the mix, it has the potential to be a really good pick-up or a potentially catastrophic equation of subtraction by addition.

In talking with a league executive who Bogut played for earlier in his career, he said Bogut would be a good addition to the Celtics roster from a basketball standpoint.

“But you never know about how they fit outside of that,” the executive told CSNNE.com. “As we’ve seen, sometimes it’s just as important that guys click off the court as it is that they can play together on it. I don’t think that would be an issue, but with new guys and not knowing how that locker room works and its dynamics, you just never really know how it’ll play out.

The executive added, “But if they can get him after the Philly buyout, do it. He can help them. His strength is their weakness; it makes a lot of sense for both sides honestly.”