In the words of the late Donna Summer, will tonight be the Sixers “Last Dance?”
Don’t ask Doug Collins. He’s thinking of something totally different. Like 1982, when he witnessed the Sixers shock Larry Bird and the Celtics at Boston Garden in Game 7. He was quick to inform his too-young-to-know-any-better-team that they have a shot at a similar feat.
“The big thing I said to them was, ‘How bad do you want to go back there for Game 7?'”, said Collins yesterday, after his team watched film of all their fatal Game 5 mistakes. “You can throw up all the odds against teams winning a seventh game on the road. But I went back and pulled up the ghosts of Celtics past in 1982. Now we have the same opportunity, if we give ourselves a chance [today].”
For that to happen the Sixers can’t let Rajon Rondo continuously set up teammates for dunks and wide-open jumpers, the way he did with Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in Game 5. They also can’t afford 15 turnovers, many resulting in Celtics’ hoops at the other end.
And they need to use the energy of the crowd, or those “fair-weather” fans as described by Garnett, to set the tone and make it a memorable night.
“They took it to another level on defense [in Game 5] and were able to get out on the break,” said point guard Jrue Holiday, who turned it over four times during a key stretch in the third quarter.
“Those are things we need to do on our court. We have to want it more than they do, so we have to go out and fight for it. At this point, you can’t think about this might be the last game.”
Besides, their coach doesn’t want them thinking that way.
“I don’t know why we should even talk about elimination games,” said Collins. “An elimination game to me is negative.”