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NBA Finals: Celtics, Lakers have game 7 date with history

Of the NBA's 63 championships, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers account for 32. The Lakers trail the Celtics 15 to 17 in NBA Finals championship banners heading into Thursday's decisive Game 7.

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Celtics captain Paul Pierce lamented the loss of Perkins, but framed it as a chance for others to shine. "It's unfortunate that we lose one of our guys who have been so big for us in the playoffs and in this series, especially with his strength and his lift," Pierce said Wednesday. "But that means other guys got to be ready to step up. We've got Big Baby [Glen Davis], we've got Rasheed [Wallace], and if possible we've got Shelden Williams."

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The Celtics did beat the Lakers at Staples Center in this Finals series – in game two – so it is possible, say Boston fans. But sports analysts say it's not likely. It will come down to the Celtics' defense against Bryant, and whether he can get enough team support from Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, and Derek Fisher. On the Celtics' side, Ray Allen could get hot again after breaking the NBA single-game record of three-pointers (eight) in game two before going ice cold, missing 18 straight.

Fans on both coasts are poised for history that can revolve around a single shot – such as a buzzer beater by Sam Jones in game four of the 1969 finals. The Celtics won game seven that year by just two points (108-106) after Lakers coach Butch Van Breda Kolff famously defied Laker owner Jack Kent Cooke’s personal order to put Wilt Chamberlain back in the game.

Hall of famer Jerry West got the only consolation for Lakers fans that year – becoming the only NBA Finals Most Valuable Player ever to have played for the losing team. Besides getting the MVP award, West also received a new, Celtics-green Volkswagen Beetle, adding insult, many said, to injury.