LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – They couldn’t really taste it until Kemba Walker hit that pull-up and-one midway through the fourth quarter.

There’s no official record of this being the case, but something changed in the Boston Celtics’ swagger when his shot fell through at the 6:05 mark. You can pick up on those sorts of things when you’re sitting 20 feet away from the bench for an Eastern Conference semifinals Game 7 inside this NBA bubble.

Here was their struggling point guard, the most playoff-starved star of them all whose only previous Game 7 experience had been an utter disaster during his Charlotte days, stuck yet again in that Toronto Raptors box-and-one defense that was testing his will and his patience all at once.

He took that cross-court pass from Jaylen Brown, dribbled past Fred VanVleet and rose up. Bucket. Pascal Siakam with the contact that drew the whistle that would put the Celtics up 85-78. And courtside, where…





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