To defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, to win the 18th NBA championship in franchise history, and to prove the whole basketball world wrong, all the Celtics need is one more win. They're so close they can almost taste the victory champagne.
The C's beat the Lakers 92-86 in Boston in Game 5 of the Finals on Sunday night. Now they're in L.A. with a chance to finish the deal.
Just one more win.
Celtics at Lakers
Tuesday, June 15, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Finally, the Celtics have the upper hand.
It took them long enough.
In the regular season, the C's lost to the Lakers in January before winning in Los Angeles the following month to even the score. In the Finals, they were down 0-1 but fought back, and they were down 1-2 but fought back again. Every time, the C's have gotten kicked down but climbed back up. This time, they're on top, and all they need to do is stay there. With a win Tuesday night, they can deliver the knockout punch to end these Finals.
Ray Allen vs. Kobe Bryant
With his team facing elimination and his chances of a fifth NBA championship ring dwindling away, Kobe will be a man possessed in Game 6. After the way he carried the Lakers in Game 5, scoring 23 consecutive points in the second and third quarters, it's scary to think of what he's got planned for an encore. As for Allen, he'll be looking for redemption. In three home games this series, the C's shooting guard finished 9-for-34 from the field, 0-for-16 from 3-point range. When he's cold, he's really cold.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Derek Fisher
Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant
Small forward: Ron Artest
Power forward: Pau Gasol
Center: Andrew Bynum
Marquis Daniels has recovered from the concussion he sustained in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, but he's played only seven seconds in this series.
Rasheed Wallace continues to fight through back pain in this series.
Andrew Bynum played 31 minutes in Game 5 despite having a slighty torn meniscus in his right knee. He has had his right knee drained twice in this series.
Lamar Odom has played through flu-like symptoms.
In the playoffs, they always say to "play every game like it's your last." But this time, the Celtics have extra motivation — if they take care of business in Game 6, it will be their last. The C's have a chance to finish off the Lakers at the Staples Center on Tuesday night, but they have to make sure they execute their game plan and take care of the little things: close out on shooters, get those defensive rebounds and get the transition game going early. The Celtics need to exert all the energy they have left, leaving it all on the floor in one final push to win their 18th championship.