The Nets aren’t simply scheduled to play a Game 7 Saturday night time at Barclays Center, 8:30 p.m., Bucks in the home, a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals at stake.
They will play the Game 7 of all their Game 7s.
It is a testomony to simply how uncommon the thought of a Game 7 is — all sports activities, actually, however particularly professional basketball — that the Nets have been in enterprise since 1967, they’ve referred to as Teaneck, N.J., house, and West Hempstead and Uniondale, Piscataway and East Rutherford and Newark, and now Brooklyn, and have performed a complete of six Game 7s in 54 seasons, and so they’re 3-3 in them.
Sure. There have been some woeful stretches of basketball in there. But there even have been 29 playoff appearances, counting this one. There have been just a few Game 5s when opening-round sequence have been best-of-five, however there may be little romance connected to Game 5, even do-or-die Game 5s.
Game 7 is Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter, Aaron Bleepin’ Boone and Johnny Podres. Game 7 is 36 factors and 19 assists for Clyde Frazier. Game 7 is the unparalleled Marv Albert saying the phrases Rangers followers like him had desperately waited 54 years to listen to: “The New York Rangers have won the Stanley Cup.”
Game 7 is without doubt one of the greatest issues about sports activities. Maybe the perfect. Period. New paragraph.
“It’ll be a test,” Nets coach Steve Nash mentioned Thursday night time, after the Bucks had held serve a 3rd straight time and pushed the sequence to its max. “That much we already know.”
For the Nets, it’ll be an examination with some extra-added impediments. Nash made it official that Kyrie Irving’s ankle will preclude him from enjoying Game 7. He mentioned Irving’s season isn’t essentially accomplished — if the Nets survive, we may even see him once more — but in addition mentioned Irving “still has some miles to make up.”
James Harden? Harden was fairly good in Game 5 when you think about he was nonetheless hobbled by his hamstring. But Harden’s masterful footwork is his most harmful weapon — basketball’s model of Jacob deGrom’s fastball, or of Patrick Mahomes’ creativeness — and that footwork is a reminiscence proper now. He performs on guts and grit and guile. The Nets hope that can be sufficient.
They hope Kevin Durant could make up for a whole lot of sins.
What makes this Game 7 so fascinating is the mountain of chips piled excessive on the desk. There can be no such factor as a “good loss,” for both the Bucks or the Nets, each of whom have frolicked this 12 months as both presumptive or prohibitive favorites to win the championship.
The Bucks have been 60-22, 56-17 and 46-26 the final three years. They have had two-time MVP (and all-world defensive participant) Giannis Antetokounmpo anchoring all of it, and Antetokounmpo has had a splendid working mate in Khris Middleton the entire time — and so they nonetheless have but to make it out of the East. It is sort of sure that Mike Budenholzer can be teaching for his job Saturday, particularly now that Rick Carlisle has freed himself from the Dallas cleaning soap opera.
So that’s the Bucks.
But the Nets have simply as a lot to lose in the event that they lose. They have purchased just a few rounds of credibility and likeability with the best way they’ve dealt with adversity in this sequence — notably Game 5’s epic comeback — however there isn’t one member of the basketball cognoscenti who will really feel in the least like giving them a mulligan due to accidents.
If something, what the Nets have endured is what was anticipated all 12 months lengthy, after they might solely subject a full staff eight instances. And in 2021, there isn’t an NBA staff left standing that isn’t additionally left hobbling. Injuries have ravaged these playoffs, and have been as notable a presence as Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker or Durant. The Nets have a small, closing window right here. There is not any assure subsequent 12 months can be higher. Or even pretty much as good.
So there’s that.
So the Nets will play a Game 7 in opposition to the Bucks and a Game 7 for their very own historical past of Game 7s, a stretch that dates to April 29, 1970, after they fell on the Louisville Convention Center to Louie Dampier and the Kentucky Colonels in the ABA’s Eastern semifinals — a seismic occasion hardly anybody observed as a result of the Knicks have been engaged in a bit of sequence of their very own in opposition to the Lakers on the similar time.
Their three wins have all been inspiring — they upset Julius Erving and the Virginia Squires in 1972 on the best way to the ABA Finals, beat George Gervin and the Spurs in 1976 on their approach to the ABA title, beat Kyle Lowry and the Raptors — in Toronto, no much less — for the franchise’s first-ever NBA Game 7 win in 2014.
Winning Saturday night time could be equally rousing, and would preserve alive the town’s hopes for a primary civic basketball crown in 48 years.
Best to cope with that when — or if — it’s a must to cope with that. But it’s Game 7. Something loopy will occur. Something nice will occur. That a lot we already know. It’s Game 7.