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A look at the TD Garden from high above the parquet floor.It's Game 7 as the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers clash for the right to advance to the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night at TD Garden (8 p.m., ABC). To preview the matchup, we play a (tardy) game of 2-on-2 with colleague Greg Payne:
1. How much will home-court help Boston in Game 7?
Payne: Home court will play a big role in tonight's game. Bolstered by what should be a very raucous crowd tonight, the Celtics should have an easier time avoiding the mental pitfalls that allow for lengthy 76er runs, and should also be that much more locked in as they seek those runs for themselves. Look at the third quarter in Game 5. Sure, the Celtics put the run together after Kevin Garnett was called for that offensive foul, but the crowd was just as vital, putting an unending energy into the arena that the C's fed off of.
Forsberg: It'll help, but only if Boston gives them something to cheer about (or the refs give them something to get lathered up about). Let's face it, this team didn't exactly benefit from home-court advantage at times early in the series -- mainly because of early start times and lackluster first-half efforts from Boston. All that said, having home court in Game 7 has to be an advantage. Not that either team should need energy, but Boston clearly feeds off its fans at times and a rollicking atmosphere won't hurt their chances in a deciding game.
2. What else will you be focused on in Game 7?
Payne: It's got to be Rondo, right? We say it over and over, but only because it's worth repeating: He'll dictate so many intangibles for the Celtics tonight that he has to be considered the most important player on the floor, at least from Boston's perspective. He needs to set a brisk tone from the start and then up that several notches as the game progresses. Get ready for triple-double Rondo tonight.
Forsberg: I keep going back to Kevin Garnett. He's their biggest weapon in this series -- when utilized correctly. The 76ers had a phenomenal game plan in Game 6, letting the Celtics live (err, die) by their jumper. Philadelphia gave Boston nothing easy around the basket, particularly to KG and Brandon Bass. They were content to let the Celtics earn their points at the charity stripe (which they actually did), but as the game went on, Boston was clearly content to fire away from the perimeter rather than try to get points the hard way. The Celtics can't settle in Game 7 and they have to establish the post early through Garnett.