- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

The Washington Wizards say Game 7 hasn’t even crossed their minds.

In a series in which neither team has been able to win back-to-back games — a series that has showcased Gilbert Arenas and LeBron James as two of the league’s elite — the Wizards, to borrow one of Michael Jordan’s favorite sayings, are “living in the here and now.” And that demands that if they are going to reach a Game 7 in Cleveland on Sunday, then they must first even their first-round series with the Cavaliers by winning Game 6 tonight at Verizon Center.

“It’s just one game, and we can’t be thinking about whether or not we’re going to get this to a Game 7,” Arenas said in the aftermath of the Wizards 121-120 overtime loss to the Cavaliers. “What we have to do is just go out and play and not be concerned with what happens if we win or lose the game.

“The way you have to look at it is that it’s in our building, we’ve played well in our building and we have confidence that we can win there. If we can get this one then we’re coming back to Cleveland for a Game 7.”

One reason for optimism is the fact that the Wizards have played their best this season in pivotal situations. It also appears that they still have some fight left in them despite their emotional loss.

Arenas, who finished with a career playoff-high 44 points, pointed to the fact that the Wizards responded Wednesday night by closing a seven-point lead in regulation in the final 1:18 to force overtime.

And the Wizards even had the lead with 3.3 seconds to play in overtime until James, who scored a career playoff-record 45 points, beat three Wizards along the baseline to score the game-winning basket in overtime.

That left Cleveland coach Mike Brown not overly exuberant about his team’s win but on guard going into tonight’s game.

“The only time that I think a lead is safe is when the buzzer goes off and we’re winning,” Brown said. “You can’t have a safe lead against the Washington Wizards. They can score in bunches and we have to just keep executing at both ends of the floor, keep executing because no lead is a safe lead.”

The Cavaliers, like Washington, have won a game on the road in this series. And Brown would like nothing better than to end the series tonight.

“We don’t want to have a Game 7 because then it is up in the air and anybody can take the series in Game 7,” Brown said. “We’re looking at it as we just want to win the next game, that’s it.”

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