Within the immortal phrases of Zaza Pachulia, “We will Recreation 7 child! Recreation 7! Recreation seveeeeeeeen!”
The previous NBA huge man bellowed these phrases when his Atlanta Hawks compelled a Recreation 7 in opposition to the eventual champion Boston Celtics of their 2008 first-round matchup. And whereas that matchup featured a No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed, Sunday’s Recreation 7 between the No. 2 Celtics and No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks will possess the identical sort of ardour and vitality Pachulia exhibited in his iconic postgame proclamation.
Here is why Recreation 7 between the Celtics and Bucks goes to be an all-time basic.
Bucks & Giannis’ championship coronary heart
Because the defending NBA champions, the Bucks have a bit of additional motivation heading into Recreation 7. They do not wish to eternally be referred to as a one-and-done champion. A fluke. Or simply fortunate.
That 2021 championship will eternally be a part of Bucks famous person Giannis Antetokounmpo’s already iconic legacy. He willed his workforce to victory, dominating along with his freakish athleticism and one-of-a-kind talent set.
Antetokounmpo almost did the identical factor in Milwaukee’s Recreation 6 loss, turning into the primary participant in NBA historical past to report 40-plus factors, 20 rebounds and 6 assists in the playoffs. He additionally grew to become the primary participant since Corridor of Fame huge man Shaquille O’Neal to have 40-plus factors and 20 rebounds in a playoff sport, ending with a whopping 44 factors and 20 rebounds.
Given Antetokounmpo’s monitor report, it’s totally seemingly he places up one other historic efficiency in Recreation 7. He isn’t glad with only one championship, and Recreation 7 is his alternative to point out how hungry he’s for an additional ring.
Plus, as former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich as soon as famously mentioned, “Do not ever underestimate the center of a champion.”
Whereas Antetokounmpo was sensational in Recreation 6, Celtics All-Star swingman Jayson Tatum was equally spectacular.
Ensuring his workforce lived to battle one other day, Tatum placed on an offensive clinic in opposition to the Bucks, making a famous person assertion with a masterful efficiency of 46 factors and 9 rebounds. Tatum’s shot was moist like water all sport lengthy, going 17-of-32 from the sector (53.1 p.c) and 7-for-15 (46.7 p.c) from behind the arc.
In NBA historical past, solely 5 gamers have ever scored 45 or extra factors to drive a Recreation 7: Jamal Murray, LeBron James (the Lakers famous person has really performed this twice in his illustrious profession), Wilt Chamberlain, Kawhi Leonard and now, Tatum. That is fairly iconic firm to be a part of. (Sure, Murray is the anomaly, however he is nonetheless solely 25 years previous so who is aware of how nice he could be.)
Just like Antetokounmpo, if Tatum was ready to do this in Recreation 6 on the street, what’s stopping him from etching his identify even additional within the annals of NBA historical past at residence in Recreation 7?
Recreation 7 on the Backyard
Since they completed the common season No. 2 within the East, the Celtics have the homecourt benefit in Recreation 7 because the win-or-go-home matchup will happen on the TD Backyard in Boston. And whereas it is a extra fashionable and company model of the Backyard from Celtics lore, the TD Backyard remains to be steeped in historical past.
Again in 2008, the eventual champion Celtics led by the Huge 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen obtained previous a LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers workforce in a second-round Recreation 7 matchup. The sport was a seesaw battle that featured an epic battle between Pierce and James as the 2 tried to outduel one another. James completed with a game-high 45 factors and Pierce had 41.
That 12 months additionally featured a Recreation 7 between the Hawks and Celtics within the first spherical. This was the sport that Pachulia puffed up. However regardless of Pachulia’s pleasure, the Celtics made fast work of the Hawks, blowing them out, 99-65.
A 12 months later, the younger upstart Chicago Bulls led by Derrick Rose compelled the defending champion Celtics to a Recreation 7 on the TD Backyard. Chicago performed the Celtics tight all sport lengthy and pulled inside three with 5 minutes to go. However due to the famous person play of Pierce and Allen, the Celtics closed issues out down the stretch and secured the win for Boston.
Additionally of word, the Celtics beat the Bucks in Recreation 7 of a 2018 first spherical matchup. That sport passed off at TD Backyard and featured a lot youthful variations of Antetokounmpo, Taytum, Marcus Sensible and Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics have additionally had some notable Recreation 7 losses at TD Backyard.
In 2009, the Celtics misplaced by 19 factors to the eventual Jap Convention champion Orlando Magic at residence in Recreation 7. And in 2005, the Antoine Walker and Pierce-led Celtics obtained completely blown out by the Indiana Pacers, 97-70, in a first-round Recreation 7 matchup. The TD Backyard was referred to as the FleetCenter again then, however whereas the identify might change, the historical past nonetheless stays.
Extra not too long ago, in Recreation 7 of the 2018 Jap Convention Finals, the LeBron James-led Cavs beat a Celtics workforce that featured Al Horford, Sensible, Tatum as a rookie and second-year ahead Jaylen Brown. James was really dominant within the sport, ending with a close to triple-double of 35 factors, 15 rebounds and 9 assists.
And whereas he was simply in his first 12 months on the time, Tatum’s efficiency foreshadowed his famous person future as he dropped 24 factors and had this monster dunk on James:
With the history-steeped Backyard serving because the setting, there is no doubt Recreation 7 between the Celtics and Bucks goes to be a sport for the ages.