Nate McMillan is incredibly accommodating to the media, but there are a few questions that get on his nerves. He's over answering whether his team is "ready to play." He almost religiously refuses to label almost any contest as a "big game," as it's antithetical to his strongly-held belief that no one game counts more than another. And usually he's incredulous when asked if a game is a "must win."
But on Wednesday, after what could be Portland's last practice of the 2010-11 season, McMillan readily used the term for the first and maybe only time this season, and for good reason. If the Trail Blazers don't win Game 6 Thursday night at the Rose Garden, they're done. So McMillan, being the literal man that he is, didn't have a problem calling Game 6 what it is.
"Either win or it's over tomorrow," said McMillan. "When you talk about a must win -- you (media) say that a lot during the regular season and I can never get that, because this is a must win. We're facing elimination (Thursday) night. We've won here at home, so we believe we can do it, but this is a must win."
Though Game 6's qualifies as a certified Nate McMillan Must Win event, it doesn't really change how he or the team prepared on the eve of what could be the final game of the season. There's very few adjustments to be made or secrets to be revealed after you've played a team nine times in the past four months, so trying to switch things up for Thursday night's game, even though it is a must win, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
"They've beaten us five times, we've beaten them four and each team has won at home," said McMillan. "We need to just take care of business tomorrow night at home."
"I just try to play hard," said Marcus Camby when asked if he would prepare differently for Game 6. "Elimination games can be a little stressful, a little emotional because we know if we don't win our season is over.
"Everyone in here, before training camp started, our goal was to raise that gold ball at the end of the season. So I still know we've got a lot of fight and a lot of hunger in us. Hopefully we can have that strong performance which we didn't have throughout this whole series. We can put together a solid four quarters."
Which is something the Trail Blazers have yet to do in the series, though Thursday night would certainly be the right time to change the trend. If they don't string together four quality quarters, chances are they might won't have another opportunity for some time. Just ask Nate McMillan.