WASHINGTON – The Celtics are back home in Boston preparing for one more game against the Washington Wizards.
You can blame there being a Game 7 on the Celtics trying to create "Funeral Game 2.0" with the all-black gear, akin to what the Wizards did in January, which like most sequels to popular but crappy dramas, was a bad idea on so many levels and yet we still watch like the burning car on the side of the road.
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You can call there being a Game 7 home-court advantage holding serve once again with the home team thus far winning each game in this series.
Still, there’s another word you might want to put on this Game 7 matchup – unnecessary.
No matter how the Celtics try and spin their Game 6 loss, it was a lost opportunity in a postseason that has seen them increase the level of difficulty time and time again.
They lost their first two games, at home no less, in the first round, only to rally and win four in a row.
Yes, they played better in that span but their comeback crusade was aided by ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo’s right thumb fracture in Game 2 of the Bulls series, which kept him out the final four games – all won by Boston.
And in a series with Washington that has been so back and forth, the Celtics had a chance to put it behind them and failed to do so.
Every metric you can come up with, every historical trend you unearth, will tell you that the Celtics will win Game 7 and move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
But they know from first-hand experience that stats can measure a team’s performance, but there’s no chart or spreadsheet of data that measures mental toughness or how much heart a player or team has.
The Celtics were wrong in going with the all-black funeral look for Game 6, but let’s be real.
The Wizards looked like a team dead on arrival in Game 5 and didn’t really show much life until their ears perked up about the all-black attire worn by the Celtics, which may be the biggest wardrobe malfunction ever by the Green team.
It woke up these sleeping dogs in Washington, who then rose to the moment and now have one more chance to make the Celtics pay for letting them live to see another day.
Fortunately for Boston, there is a chance at redemption for their basketball sins.
A win on Monday night, and they will find themselves exactly where the top seed in a conference should be – playing for a trip to the NBA Finals.
But as we know, looking too far down the road is never a good idea with this team.
They have to take care of business on Monday and do so against a team that at this point has absolutely nothing to lose and thus will likely play with a more carefree approach.
Meanwhile, the Celtics find themselves having to deal with the kind of pressure that none of them is used to; not this group anyway.
Their season is down to one game, a game that could have career-altering implications.
If Boston loses, there’s no telling how many players beyond the team’s impending free agents, will be gone.
And if you’re Brad Stevens, at what point do you become more proactive about the players that YOU want, rather than work with whatever Danny Ainge brings aboard?
Isaiah Thomas had a breakout season and is viewed as one of the league’s better players, but can he continue to play at this incredibly high level considering the physical pounding his 5-foot-9 body takes on a nightly basis?
What about Avery Bradley?
The past couple of games have been the best of Bradley, offensively and defensively. Has he turned yet another corner in his never-ending climb up the wall of improvement? Or is this just him having a really good stretch?
And then there’s Jae Crowder.
He’s as versatile a defender as the Celtics have on their roster, but with the way he has struggled shooting the ball - open shots in particular - should Boston (continue to) pursue an upgrade at his position?
These are all questions/concerns that will become even bigger talking points if the Celtics’ season ends on Monday night.
But as you can imagine, they’re not thinking along those lines right now, which is a good thing.
Their focus is solely on Game 7, which will be the signature matchup of this team’s postseason run regardless of the outcome.
And while there will be lots of different descriptions of it, there’s only one that truly fits – unnecessary.
Because no matter how much fans, media and players speak about wanting a Game 7 and how this series deserves it, the Celtics should have ended this in Game 6.