What's On Tap
Sacramento Kings at Minnesota Timberwolves (TNT, 8:30 p.m. ET)
What to Watch
They have answered the question again and again, always denying their critics' allegations that they are a soft team.
For the Sacramento Kings, who find themselves facing a seventh and deciding playoff game for the third season in a row, the question is not whether they can convince anyone else of their grit and toughness, but whether they themselves are convinced.
When they take the court tonight in Minnesota against the Timberwolves to see which team advances to the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, will the Kings remember dropping game 7 in the conference semifinals last season to the Dallas Mavericks? Will they dwell on the 2002 collapse to the Lakers in game 7 of the conference finals, when they failed to score on their last five possessions, which included air balls by Doug Christie and Peja Stojakovic, and lost 112-106?
Will they think back to how they allowed the Lakers to snatch the Pacific division crown away this season by losing four of their last five regular-season games?
Will Christie remember saying at the conclusion of the conference finals in 2002 that he was "scared" by the significance of game 7 or the rest of his team look back on the nasty names their detractors called them this season, such as "marshmallow team?"
Could these thoughts flood their minds and rob them of their confidence?
"We've been there before," Kings forward Chris Webber told the Sacramento Bee. "We know we have to keep our heads and keep the focus. We've both got a lot to lose. You don't want to let [the pressure] get to you."
What might console the Kings is that they have already won on the Timberwolves' home court and are coming off a 104-87 victory in game 6. Guard Mike Bibby has run the offense consistently throughout the playoffs, averaging 20.5 points and 6.9 assists. For the Timberwolves, the difference might be Latrell Sprewell, who has averaged 30 points in the past two games.
Last Night's Big Winner (Team)
Indiana Pacers. The banged-up team eliminated the Miami Heat with a 73-70 victory, broke the Heat's 18-game home winning streak and gave themselves some added time to rest before facing the winner of the New Jersey Nets-Detroit Pistons series. The Pacers return to Eastern Conference finals for first time in four years.
Last Night's Big Loser (Team)
Miami Heat. The young team waged a strong campaign against a superior Pacers' team and gave fans something to hope for next season. The team's talented rookie guard, Dwyane Wade, performed like a veteran in playoffs, averaging 18 points and 5.6 assists a game. He led his team in the final game with 24 points.
Last Night's Big Winner (Player)
Ron Artest. The Heat had no answer for the Pacers forward, as he scored 27 points and helped hold Miami to 30 percent shooting.
Last Night's Big Loser (Player)
Eddie Jones. The Heat guard added to his reputation for falling apart in pressure situations. With his team trailing late in the game, Jones tried to force a shot over Jermaine O'Neal but the ball missed badly and ended up bouncing over the backboard. The former Laker shot 6 of 21 (28.5 percent) for the game.