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Game 7s second nature

Celtics have long history of success in series finales

By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / May 16, 2009
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The Celtics hope to continue their tradition of Game 7 success tomorrow night when they wrap up their second-round series with the Magic at TD Banknorth Garden. They are 20-5 all time in seventh games, including a 109-99 win over the Bulls May 2.

Last postseason, the Celtics won both of their Game 7s (against Atlanta and Cleveland), the first time they had played two seventh games in one year since 1987.

"They're not for everyone," Celtics captain Paul Pierce said after Thursday night's 83-75 loss in Game 6. "Some guys play their best under pressure and some guys don't. We've lost a game to the Magic at home [Game 1], but we're a very confident group when it comes down to Game 7s, especially at home."

The Celtics are 17-3 in Game 7s at home, losing to New York in the 1973 conference finals (94-78), to Philadelphia in the 1982 conference finals (120-106), and to Indiana in the 2005 conference quarterfinals (97-70).

The Celtics faulted turnovers and a failure to control Orlando center Dwight Howard (23 points, 22 rebounds) for the Game 6 loss.

"We've just got to rebuild and learn from our mistakes and make sure we don't do the same thing," said forward Glen Davis. "It's an advantage that we've been in this situation before, so we just have to go out and get it done. It was a big opportunity to go out and close it out and get some rest and get ready for Cleveland. We just have to make sure we put this behind us and go out and get the win.

"It was frustrating. The only team to blame is ourselves. We let the refs take us out of our game and we let Orlando take us out of our game. But we can't worry about that, we've just got to go out there and play . . . We're at home, we have a lot of momentum with our fans, it's a hostile environment, and we've got to make sure we get out there and get going."

Davis was replaced early by Brian Scalabrine, the third time in this series he has departed within the first three minutes. Coach Doc Rivers has told Davis he will be benched in the first quarter if he picks up a foul.

"Get one foul, he takes you out, it kind of messes up your rhythm," Davis said. "As a player, it's tough to find a sense of rhythm . . . So, you've just got to play through it and go out there and play hard. You can't control what goes on."

The Celtics committed 28 fouls, nearly double Orlando's total of 15. Davis and center Kendrick Perkins were in foul trouble for much of the game.

Asked how the Celtics plan on containing Howard, Davis replied: "He camps in the lane all night, so what can you do? Just make sure we play through it and don't let him dictate the game."

Said Rivers: "[Howard] is a monster down there. Our guys are doing their best, Perk and Baby are trying to hold him off."

"We have to make sure we play defense the way we're supposed to play defense," Davis said. "They got too many offensive rebounds, too many second-chance points, fast breaks. They capitalized off our turnovers. That's not what we do, that's not Celtics basketball. We have to tip our hats to Orlando, they forced us to a Game 7. We just have to make sure we play our game and take them out of their game so we can close the series."

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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