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News » 2009 NBA PLAYOFFS 2009-05-03


2009 NBA PLAYOFFS 2009-05-03


2009 NBA PLAYOFFS 2009-05-03
The scoreboard in the Garden isn't even on right now, and when it is it will read 0-0.

So why are the Bulls giddy as they head into Game 7? Why are the Celtics looking like the brothers grim?

``There is no pressure on us,'' said Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro. ``The pressure is all on them. They are at home, and they're the defending champions. We've just got to go in there and play.''

And if you think Del Negro is just playing coach-speak games, trying to shift the burden unfairly to the Celts, be advised that the Shamrocks are, indeed, in the crosshairs. And they know it.

Even if Kevin Garnett doesn't seize the dramatic moment, this is still a game in which the local quintet will be favored.

Pressure? Absolutely.

``It's on us, I think,'' said Kendrick Perkins. ``It's kind of hard to say, I guess, because they may have a different type of pressure. They've pushed us all the way to Game 7 and for them to get a loss it would be heartbreaking.

``But for us, you know, we're the defending champs. First round of the playoffs, more experience . . . we've got to get the win.''

It rather kills the effect when you have to go back just two years to find the last defending NBA champion to fall in the first round (Miami was broomed out by the Bulls after winning in 2006).

And you have to go back just one season to find the last time the Celtics were forced to a seventh game in the first round by a lower seed. And Garnett was an active member of the Celtic fraternity when eighth-ranked Atlanta brought the series back to the Garden.

But that was in a day and age in which the Celts treated the parquet with reverence. They had an air of invincibility when playing in front of their crowd and beneath those championship banners that were soon to welcome another member to their fraternity.

Atlanta played like Hawks caught in the Celtic headlights when it got to Game 7. That might be because it lost by 23, 19 and 25 points in its first three Garden games in the series.

Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby and their pals lost by 34 in the finale.

And it wasn't that close.

``Last year we really controlled homecourt,'' said Brian Scalabrine, who has emerged as a key contributor in this series with the coaches apparently having lost confidence in Mikki Moore. ``We played very well at home. Even though Detroit came in and got us one game, we still played really good ball at home. And I think now we're not playing our `A' Basketball there. In spurts we are, but it's not the same as last year where we had that focus pretty much all game.''

Perkins noted that the calendar isn't the only thing that's changed.

``It's two different teams,'' he said. ``It's two different situations. The Bulls are different from the Hawks, and we're different, too. They've already won on our home court, so they have to have that confidence in themselves playing in our building.''

The Bulls have won by two and lost by three and two at the Garden. They may feel some pressure, but they are playing with house money. And don't get fooled by their postseason rank.

``You can't really judge them on the seventh seed, because once they made their trade (with Sacramento for John Salmons and Brad Miller) they really were like the third seed in my opinion,'' said Perkins. ``If they'd had this team for the full year, for sure they would be in the top four in the East, and I'll say that to anybody.''

And while the Celtics played well without Garnett down the stretch, it'd be a reach to put them at No. 2 as currently constituted.

Still, they might have trouble looking in a mirror for a while if they lose this one.

The pressure is theirs.

- sbulpett@bostonherald.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 3, 2009

 

 
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