One game for all the marbles. A series that has went back and forth for what seems like an eternity finally comes down to 48 minutes of basketball and nothing else. Game 7 is a monster in its own, for some players rise to the occasion while others crumple under the pressure in the moment.
Lets take a look at some numbers on Game 7 to prepare you for the most important game of the season.
Historically speaking, the home team in Game 7 is 44-31, a 58% winning percentage. This is the first time that a series has went, from the Nets point of view, WLWLLW and that they will be on the road for Game 7, so there is no historical representation there. Alao, neither team has ever won a Game 7 in franchise history. So something has to give on Sunday afternoon. Brooklyn is 0-2 in Game 7's during their NBA tenure including last years Chicago series. The Nets have also never come back from a 3-2 deficit to win a series; they are 0-4 in those situations.
As for the players on the team, the Nets have plenty of Game 7 experience, 27 games between the whole team to be exact. Leading that number for Brooklyn is Paul Pierce. The Truth has played in eight of these types of games and is sure to be key part to the Nets success. In his eight Game 7's, Pierce is averaging 21 points per game, nearly seven rebounds on nearly 41% shooting from the field. He has a record of 4-4. His most outstanding series finale performance certainly came in 2008, when he dropped 41 points on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers en route to a Boston victory. Pierce's eight Game 7's are the second most among active players in the league. Only former teammate Ray Allen.
Kevin Garnett also has his fair share of Game 7's in his career. Garnett has played in six. KG missed what would have been two more game 7's when he injured his knee during the Celtics title run in 2009. Garnett is still an animal in Game 7's. He is averaging nearly 19 points, over 11 rebounds and more than one block per Game 7 and is shooting at a 51% clip. His record is 4-2. With Kidd letting Garnett play a little more than the norm Friday night, 26 minutes, the coach may realize that KG is a crucial part to the Nets success and that he must be on the floor as much as his body will allow him to be.
The third most active Game 7 player on the Nets is Joe Johnson. Johnson is having an incredible series that has seen him alter the entire Raptors defensive scheme. In last year's Game 7 against the Bulls. Johnson was battling plantar fasciitis and managed to only put up nine points on 2-14 shooting from the floor. In his four previous Game 7's, Johnson is averaging nearly 13 points on 33% shooting from the field ... and 40% from beyond the arc. Johnson has had one truly great game of the four when he led his Atlanta Hawks over the Miami Heat with 27 points and five rebounds.
Deron Williams has only played in two so the stats won't tell us all that much.But as he noted Friday night, he's been in a Game 7 on the road and won. In fact, he excelled. In 2007, the Jazz rolled into Houston for a Game 7, winning three of the last four. D-Will scored 20 points, handed out 14 assists -- against only four turnovers, grabbed two rebounds and had one steal. He shot shot 7-of-13, including 1-of-3. In the loss vs. the Bulls last year, he led the team with 24 points, hit four three pointers (out of eight) and came away with seven assists and six rebounds. He didn't turn the ball over.
All in all, though, the Nets have players who have a bevy of Game 7's under their belt which could play a mental advantage when they face off against the Raptors, who have played a combined seven games like this upcoming one as a team.
Reed's Quick Hitters for Game 7
- The Nets have tried forcing DeMar DeRozan left in this series. DeRozan has hit incredibly tough shots all series long, but in the regular season he shot four percentage points worse from the left elbow than the right and eight percentage points worse from the left corner compared to the right. Garnett and Pierce have been very aggressive doubling DeRozan when he looks to come off a side pick-and-roll, and they must continue to make him uncomfortable for the Nets to get the upper hand. The Nets have run some ICE at DeRozan this series to stop him from getting a screen. Here is a great example...
- Andray Blatche played his best game of basketball in a long, long time Friday night. He remained inside the paint for the majority of his time on the floor and let the Nets' wings drive and kick to him for easy finishes. Blatche is probably going to see a lot of minutes with Mason Plumlee seemingly out of the rotation and Garnett unable to give more than 22-27 minutes, so he must play within his limitations.
- Brooklyn needs to run the offense through Joe Johnson. The Raptors send a double team almost every time he gets the ball in the post which opens up a lot of options around the floor. If the Nets can have Johnson attract a lot of the Raptors attention, players like Alan Anderson, Pierce and Williams can see some open looks with good ball movement. If Johnson doesn't get the ball in a post up situation at least once a player, regardless of the result, it is a failure.
- The most important key to a Game 7 win, though, is Deron Williams. D-Will needs to play with the heart he did on Friday night. Williams was curling around screens and pushing the pace and was "good" Deron Williams again. DWill needs to rehabilitate that banged up ankle and bring his A-game Sunday afternoon in Toronto.
Let's do this, everybody.
- Game 7? That's why Nets got KG & Pierce - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York