(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
As 2008 World Champions, the Boston Celtics know how to win playoff games.
It's apparent when the Celtics and Magic play each other that the Magic are the playoff pupils and the Celtics are the instructors. Paul Pierce insists that their playoff confidence translates directly into game seven confidence.
Why shouldn't it? After all, they've been there before.
"Some guys play their best under pressure and some guys don't. We're comfortable in game sevens and we're not a team that gets the jitters," Pierce told reporters.
If the Magic want to win game seven, they're going to have to play with confidence and calm, and the "master of panic" Stan Van Gundy is in charge of making that happen.
Besides attitude and experience, there is not much separating the Magic and Celtics. Both are skilled enough to win, and anything could happen. However, the Magic would serve better to ignore the stats.
What stats? Well, how about the statistic that says the Celtics are an amazing 25-5 in game sevens all-time and an even better 17-3 on home court?
How about the fact that Boston is an incredible and intimidating 32-0 in eventually winning series in which they went ahead 3-2?
Much of that history was made by Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, and other Celtics greats from the past, but there is no reason to think that the present Boston team can't do the same.
The Celtics won two game sevens last spring en route to the championship, and eliminated the Chicago Bulls
this year in a game seven as well.
With Jameer Nelson gone, the Magic hardly experienced in playoff game seven situations, there is no doubt that Sunday night will be difficult for Stan Van Gundy and the boys.
So far, Van Gundy has been keeping his cool and staying positive.
"History and the odds don't mean anything," the Magic head coach said. "As far as their [the Celtics] record in game sevens, I don't think it means anything. [Boston losing a 3-2 lead] is going to happen sometime. So we'll go and be the first."
There is no reason to think the Magic shouldn't be confident going into Sunday's game. After all, Dwight Howard played a stand up game on Thursday night in game six, producing a 23-point, 22-rebound, and three-block effort. He's also averaging 17.2 points and 17.3 rebounds against the Celtics. If Superman plays like Superman, the Magic can make things happen.
Howard matches Van Gundy's positive attitude.
"We've had some tough lessons in this series and the biggest one is that you have to play all 48 minutes if you want to beat Boston," said Howard. "Whoever goes out there and plays the hardest for 48 minutes will win. They have the experience, but for us it's all about effort and energy. I believe in my team and I believe that we're going up there to give it our all."