Despite Blowout Loss and Injuries, Celtics Still Optimistic for Game 7
After Tuesday night's game, the Boston center was sitting at his locker with his head buried in his hands. Then he stumbled to the shower.
There must have been healing powers in the water.
When Davis came back, it was as if Boston's 89-67 defeat to the Lakers, which left the NBA Finals tied 3-3, never happened. Davis even offered what sure sounded like a guarantee for victory in Thursday's Game 7, also at the Staples Center.
"We'll come to play,'' he said. "We'll compete, and we'll be there at the end holding the trophy up.''
One could say Davis is being delusional. Gumby would have been more aggressive Tuesday than any of these other guys in green had just been.
The Celtics were outrebounded 52-39, including 30-13 in the first half when they looked shell-shocked for a while that starting center Kendrick Perkins had been lost for the game with 5:30 left in the first quarter due to a sprained right knee.
Perkins is unlikely to play in Game 7. So what in the world makes Davis think the Celtics have any chance?
"If Perk can't go, 'The Ticket Stub' will be here,'' Davis said. "I'll call him and make sure he'll come in on his flight, a flight early, probably in the morning. So I'll come and see how he's doing.''
So that clinches that Davis is delusional. He's talking about his alter ego, which is a play on teammate Kevin "The Big Ticket'' Garnett. Davis has called himself "The Ticket Stub'' when he has replaced Garnett.
Davis, who punched his ticket Tuesday to the tune of not a single point, continued to talk about how fired up the Celtics will be for Game 7. But he never really answered the question: why were they so flat in Game 6, when Davis admitted "we got our (butt) kicked, point blank, simple"?
"It's very surprising,'' guard Tony Allen said about why his team came out with such a laissez-faire attitude. "It's the NBA Finals. I would never have felt that we would have come out that flat or just not had the energy.''
Various theories were thrown out. Perhaps the Celtics did not have the urgency of the Lakers because it wasn't an elimination game for Boston. It was suggested the flight across the country after Sunday's Game 5 had taken its toll, but then the realization hit the Lakers had not been beamed from Boston in Star Trek fashion.
But credit Celtics guard Rajon Rondo for the most honest answer.
"I think we were a little bit focused on if Perk was going to come back instead of just continuing to play,'' said Rondo, who sported a bandage after the game over his cut chin from having taken a Ron Artest elbow late in the third quarter, complaining at the time when no foul had been called. "As soon as halftime came, we all just ran to the locker room and to the training room to see how he was feeling.''
By then, it was too late. The Celtics were trailing 51-31, and had been outscored 33-19 after Perkins, who gives the team toughness, had left for good.
Remember the legendary Rick Pitino rant when he was Celtics coach of, "Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door"?
Well, Kendrick Perkins is not walking through that door for Game 7. Boston coach Doc Rivers said "it doesn't look great'' that Perkins, who will be re-evaluated Wednesday, will be able to go. Allen said Perkins is "probably not going to play Game 7'' but that he'll be "cheering us on.''
The Celtics are going to need all the support they can get. No NBA team has won a Game 7 on the road in the Finals since Washington broke through in 1978 at Seattle.
And these Lakers sure are looking hungry. Star guard Kobe Bryant, who had a game-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, is now firmly entrenched in his me-against-the-world bubble.
"I just thought the Lakers played harder, better,'' said Rivers, quite surprised at his team's no-show performance. "They executed. They trusted more. I thought we played an individual game.''
The Celtics, though, weren't selfish when it came to distributing shots clanging off the rim. They shot 33.3 percent two days after their 56.3 percent marksmanship in the 92-86 Game 5 win.
Only one Celtics player who had more than two field-goal attempts shot even 50 percent. And a fatalist might wonder why in the heck guard Ray Allen, who had gone just 9-of-34 in his previous three games, picked this massacre to finally get his stroke back.
Ray Allen, who shot 7 of 14 for a team-high 19 points, said Boston's starters, minus presumably Perkins, had a conversation right after the game in which they took "complete responsibility'' for a horrid start in which the Celtics trailed 28-18 after the first quarter.
But by the time the guard got to the podium for a postgame interview he didn't look at all to be in a down mood. Then again, he had showered in the same locker room as Davis.
"(Game 7) is for all the marbles,'' said Ray Allen. "We've been a team that's operated well with our backs against the wall, and everybody knows what's at stake and everybody knows what they need to do.''
Not many other people are feeling good about the Celtics' chances in Game 7, but at least they are. And "The Ticket Stub'' isn't even scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles until Wednesday morning.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson