LOS ANGELES -- You knew this was going seven. It couldn't take anything less to decide this series between these teams. It was the NBA's version of manifest destiny.
I'm sure there is much hyperventilating going on in the Hub today after the Lakers dismantled the Celtics, 89-67, in Game 6, the 67 points a new low point for the Celtics, literally. They were the fewest points this fabled franchise has ever scored in an NBA Finals game.
It became quite clear the Celtics weren't winning this one in the second quarter, when both Shelden Williams and Rajon Rondo clanged dunks. I haven't checked with the Elias Sports Bureau, but it's safe to say that a team has never won a clinching game of the NBA Finals on the road while bricking a pair of slams. You have to miss dunks to shoot .333 percent from the field.
So, instead of celebrating another championship, the Celtics are preparing for another game. Instead of dousing each other with champagne in the visiting locker room of the Staples Center they were forced to swallow a humbling defeat. Instead of preparing to participate in another rolling rally, they got rolled.
It's okay. This is just all part of the process in this see-saw series. The Celtics and Lakers are too talented, too evenly matched, too well-coached and too championship-driven (the royalty check is in the mail, M.L. Carr) to determine legacies and the Larry O'Brien Trophy without going to the limit.
The last two NBA champions are going the distance to decide the next titlist. It has a certain symmetry to it, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the bonus basketball, even if it means gnawing your nails LeBron James-style. In an NBA playoffs that has been devoid of drama, the Celtics and Lakers will script a dramatic conclusion.
"This is what it's all about," said Glen "Big Baby" Davis. "This is what you guys are going to talk about for years. You guys are going to remember this moment. You are going to remember Thursday forever. I can't wait. I can't wait to step up on the floor and win here in LA."
Did the Celtics truly believe they'd win last night and close it out at the Staples Center? Absolutely.
Are they surprised it's going to take a seventh game to vanquish their Southern California counterparts? "No, not at all. Not at all," said Garnett.
"No. You know it's Lakers-Celtics, the biggest rivalry in NBA basketball, seven games. It is what it is," said Rajon Rondo, part of the Core Four, who through three quarters had every one of Boston's 51 points.
That's right Paul Pierce (13), Ray Allen (16), Garnett (12) and Rondo (10) had accounted for every Celtics point up until that point, as they trailed the Lakers by 25 (76-51) after three. Boston's ballyhooed backups had zero points until Nate Robinson hit a reverse layup and got fouled with 9:56 left in the game.
The occasionally quarrelsome quartet finished with 54 points, led by 19 from Allen, who broke an 0-18 3-point skid and was the only one to score in a fourth quarter that was glorified garbage time.
You can also toss this game into the cerebral circular file. It's over, and we shouldn't expect a repeat. Game 7 should be more reflective of the series, tense, taut, tight and tremendous.
There has been a lot of discussion about 50-50 balls in this series. Well, Game 7 is the ultimate 50-50 proposition. The teams are so even after six games that they even have the same primary injury concern. Both teams could be without their centers due to right knee injuries.
Kendrick Perkins sprained his right knee going up for a rebound with 5:30 left in the first quarter, hobbled off and never returned. Watching him limp out of the arena in street clothes, it doesn't look good for Game 7.
After the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that Andrew Bynum, whose right knee issues have been well-documented, asked the Zen Master to pull him after a minute and 42 seconds of the third quarter, telling Jackson, "You've got to take me out. I can't run."
"It's unfortunate what happened to him," said Bynum of Perkins. "I know where he's at, so I wish him the best, and I hope he'll be able to play."
Both centers are candidates for a Willis Reed-type attempt at playing. Choose any well-worn sports bromide you like, but the sentiment is the same -- you're not sitting out this game if you can walk.
Davis, who was scoreless last night, and Rasheed Wallace, who missed all of his "big boy" shots, going 0 for 7 and 0 for 6 from 3-point land, figure to get the call if Perkins can't go or is severely impeded by the knee.
Lakers point guard Derek Fisher said after the game that he didn't believe in leprechauns, but does he believe in omens?
Game 7 is going to be played on June 17, exactly two years to the day of the Celtics defeating the Lakers to win their 17th NBA title. That was the last time a Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals featured such a resounding rout, as the Celtics blasted the Lakers 131-92 in Game 6 at TD Garden.
On the anniversary of their last title, the Celtics will try to win their next. The Green want to secure Banner No. 18 on June 17. If you're the superstitious type, the date has to count for something.
The truth is we latch on to anything in a Game 7 because they are completely unpredictable, sports' version of a complete crap shoot.
What is very predictable is that it would take seven games for the Lakers and Celtics to settle the matter of crowing an NBA champion.
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.