In a city accustomed to big sporting events, fans turned out in big numbers at sports bars across Boston tonight to cheer the underdog Celtics in their climactic Game 7 against the Heat in Miami.
And by halftime, they were not disappointed as the Celtics raced to a 53-46 lead.
At Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill in the Fenway, Steven Wilson, 26, and his twin brother, Andrew, felt the Celtics were on the road to victory as the clock dropped to zero to end the first half.
“I think it’s going well,” Steven said among a crowd of 400 fans. “I’m feeling confident, but it’s early.”
“We’re playing well,” said Andrew, sporting a Celtics jersey and a Bruins hat. “The refs are helping [the Heat] out. It’s the only reason they are still in the game.”
Both brothers said the final score would favor the Celtics. Steven predicted, 95-87, while Andrew said he saw the game slowing down to an 85-83 triumph.
At the Cask ‘n Flagon near Fenway Park, Jen Summers, 31, said the Celtics were benefiting from aggressive, charge-ahead play. Summers, a St. Louis transplant who lives in the Back Bay, showed her support by wearing the team colors with a green beaded necklace and green skirt.
“The city appreciates the team because they work hard,” said Summers, who began rooting for the Celtics two years ago after moving to Boston.
When the game began shortly after 8:30 p.m., fans at Jerry Remy’s mixed cheers with apprehension. Green shirts filled the bar tables, where fans with drinks in their hands had the smiles turn to frowns when LeBron James, the Heat’s biggest star, appeared on the screens.
Decked out in green-and-white Celtics gear, Tom Dusseault, 23, and Joan Casey, 29, both of Boston, cheered as the 8:30 p.m. tipoff approached to determine which team would advance to the NBA Finals.
“We’re definitely going to win,” Casey said with a confident smile. “This is a huge game. We got this. We’re going to dominate.”
“This is the classic David and Goliath story. That’s what it’s all about,” Dusseault said.
The focus on James, especially after his stellar performance in Game 6 on Thursday, worried Dusseault. Instead, he said, “we have to focus on sinking our own shots.”
Dusseault predicted that the Celtics would win, 97-94.
At the Cask ‘n Flagon beside Fenway Park, Jacob Barnett of Braintree lingered after the Red Sox’s defeat to watch the basketball game.
“They better win,” said Barnett, 21. “The Red Sox just lost, so if the Celtics lose I would be crushed.”
Steve Blade of Connecticut, a fan of all the Boston sports teams, expected the Celtics to prevail. “If they lose, we’ll root for them next year, but I am optimistic,” Blade said.