The Los Angeles Lakers are expressing confidence as they enter a rare must-win situation tonight for Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center.
The Boston Celtics took a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series Sunday with a 92-86 victory at TD Garden, putting them one win away from dethroning the Lakers as NBA champions.
This is the first time the Lakers will play an elimination game since Game 7 of the 2009 Western Conference semifinals, when they defeated the Houston Rockets. If the Lakers win, Game 7 would be played Thursday, also at Staples Center.
"We have a challenge obviously down 3-2," Laker guard Kobe Bryant said. "We let a couple opportunities slip away. But it is what it is.
"Now you go home, you've got two games at home that you need to win and you pull your boots up and get to work."
To Lakers coach Phil Jackson, "We're going back to home court to win it."
"We're upbeat about going into this game," said Jackson, whose team split the first two games of the series at Staples Center.
Boston coach Doc Rivers said "It's going to be a hell of a challenge for us because they're going to be great and we're going to have to beat them at their best because they're going to be great there and we can't expect anything else."
One key for the Lakers is rebounding. The team with more rebounds has won every game of the series.
Another key is forward Ron Artest returning to his form in Game 1, when he made five of 10 shots and scored 15 points in a 102-89 victory. In the four games since then, he has made eight of 33 shots, 24.2 percent, and scored 24 points, an average of six per game.
Boston has history on its side. Of the 40 teams who have held 3-2 leads in the NBA Finals, 34 have won the championship. However, three of the six teams who have overcome the deficit had the final two games on their home court, as the Lakers would with a victory tonight.
"With the severity of the game, it's all out on both ends for both teams," Boston forward Kevin Garnett said. "This will probably be the hardest game of the season, if not of the series, if not of everybody's career."
The game is set to begin at 6:10 p.m.