It's the kind of plays, the hustle plays, that are the X factor in a Game 7. The talent was there, Pierce vs Lebron; but in the end, the Celtics had a little more determination (helped by playing at home) to win the little battles, chase down those loose balls. It's why you fight for that home court advantage for 82 games in the regular season. The Celtics took advantage of the home crowd's energy and enthusiasm to secure the win today.

2 plays I want to highlight (that you all probably seen as well). The first was Eddie House chasing down the loose ball and saving it from OB to James Posey. The second was Paul Pierce battling Lebron James for the loose ball after the jump ball and calling the TO. Here they are,

I first heard the soundbite from the great Peace by Inches speech from Al Pacino in the movie, Any Given Sunday. In it he says, "In any fight, it's the guy who's willing to die that will win that inch. On this team, we fight for that inch. We tear ourselves to pieces for that inch! We CLAW!! with our FINGERNAILS for that inch..."

Before the season, and before games, I ask my players all the time, what are you prepared to do to help this team win? Are you gonna be that guy who's willing to dive on the floor head first. Are you willing to sacrifice a part of yourself for the team? I love hustle guys, hustle guys will always get playing time on my roster.

House Dives Head First:

With no regard for human life,

If I'm Mike Brown, I'm wondering why Wally Szczerbiak didn't dive for the ball. Better yet, if I'm Danny Ferry, I'm wondering now that season is over whether Wally should be on this team.

In contrast, you gotta love a guy like Eddie House. Here's a guy that didn't play much in the first 5 games, and when he gets his chance, in Game 7, the biggest stage in the world, he's diving on the floor chasing down balls, just great stuff.

Pierce Beats Lebron to the Ball:

Off the jumpball, Pierce just hits the deck and grabs the ball away from Lebron,

Hard to fault Lebron too much after he pours in 45 points, but Pierce out-dueled him for that ball. And with the 3-point lead, that possession was critical, probably sealed the win for the Celtics.


In any elimination game, things are desperate for both teams and its inevitable that the ball will end up loose on the ground. Heart can win ball games, and today was proof of that. I remember one year I played JV ball in HS, we were a small team, bunch of short kids from an inner city school. The motto our coach used that year was "Hit the floor or Hit the bricks". We weren't very skilled, but man were we scrappy. As a football player as well, I love it. We even won a few games too.

Well, it wasn't very pretty, but the Celtics hold serve once again and advance to face the Pistons. This is going to be a great series, an epic one by all accounts. The key for the Pistons will be whether they can create tempo and get the game up into the 90s or over 100. The key for the Celtics will be whether they can fix their shooting woes, Allen was off all 7 games.

For some off-season tips on basketball related conditioning, take a look at Robert Taylor's DVD on Balanced Conditioning. Coach Taylor is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loyola College in Maryland. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.