They’d better win because they’ve worked 12 months for these 48 minutes. They’ve said it daily since May 4, 2008, same as Mike Woodson said it Saturday: “We wanted to have a chance to host Game 7.” Now they do.
They’d better win because to do otherwise would leave them where they were 364 days ago. They’d be just another team that made a bit of noise before taking its leave, just another Round 1 loser. They’d get to sit and watch while the big boys sort out the NBA championship, and again they’d have to ask, “When are we going to grow up?”
They’d better win because these Hawks are almost grown, or they should be. Joe Johnson and Mo Evans entered the NBA in 2001, Flip Murray in 2002, Zaza Pachulia in 2003. Mike Bibby was drafted in 1998. Even Josh Smith, widely viewed as the epitome of young and reckless, has been a pro since 2004.
They’d better win because they saw in Boston what it takes to win a Game 7. They saw the Celtics in all their focused fury. They saw the Celtics’