Williams hasn't honored his franchise's faith, and injuries aren't even half the story. He's been so inconsistent, showing off his Utah Jazz form one night before looking barely interested the next, that nobody around the Nets would be stunned if Williams shows up Sunday packing his C-plus game.
He had his moments early in this series, but his combined 7-for-19 from the floor in the Games 4 and 5 defeats (while Lowry shot 18-for-36) -- paired with the failure to beat Chicago last year -- made Friday night a referendum on his place, or lack thereof, in Brooklyn. He answered the questions by dusting Lowry in building a 19-point halftime lead and by shooting 8-of-16 from the field for the game to Lowry's 4-of-16 for 11 points.
"It just shows what type of player he is," Kidd said, "and what he's all about."
With 9:55 left in the third quarter, after Williams went down in a heap, the point guard limped about in obvious pain on his twisted ankle before Kidd approached him at midcourt, told him to prepare for his free throws and motioned for him to try to walk it off. The same coach who had promised before the game that there "won't be any Rudy speeches" seemed ready to deliver one on the spot.
Fans started chanting Williams' name, and after he reappeared following the timeout, they cheered him for giving it the ol' college try. It wasn't exactly Willis Reed hobbling out of the Game 7 tunnel, but it would have to do.
Garnett would go on about Williams' heart and grit and suggest that lesser men would've given in to the pressure and pain. "He could have took another route, you know?" said Garnett, who delivered a throwback performance of his own. "But that's our leader. That's our leader."
All season long, the old Celtics, Garnett and Pierce, have tried to pump up Williams and inflate his wavering opinion of himself. Kidd picked up where they left off Friday night, all but nominating his guy for a Congressional medal.
"I think Deron showed he's a warrior," Kidd maintained. "He sprained his ankle, comes back, shoots the free throws and doesn't want to come out of the game. And I think that just shows leadership and toughness."
Two things he showed on a regular basis in Utah.
Williams said that his ankle will be ready for Game 7 before reminding reporters that he played for a Jazz team that won a Game 7 on the road. Sitting next to Williams at the postgame news conference, Pierce said, "I love our chances," while Andray Blatche was in the locker room guaranteeing a second-round trip to Miami.
But Pierce already has his championship ring, and nobody really cares about Blatche's promises to do this or that. Game 7 will be just like Game 6 -- a sudden-death test of Deron Williams' character and skill, not to mention his desire to remain a credible part of the treacherous sports landscape in New York.