Some People's Kids: The Celtics Are Who We Thought They Were

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Celtics Are Who We Thought They Were

The NBA finals are two games in and so far its been as one sided as it can get. Put aside the 4th quarter comeback in Game 2, because that game was a complete blowout until then. If anything, that comeback was good for the Celtics, a strong reminder that they can't get complacent when the get a lead against this Lakers team. Tonight Game 3 shifts to Los Angeles where the Lakers will no doubt play better than they did in Boston, because in my mind, they can't play a whole lot worse. The Lakers will win one, maybe two at home and the Celtics will finish this series off in 5 or 6 games. I've had the pleasure of watching the first two games in entirety and I have taken a couple things from doing so.

When the season started, everyone picked the Celtics to win the title after they got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen via trade. During the regular season, the Celtics did nothing but enforce people's thinking, with the Celts compiling a 66-16 regular season record. They had the biggest one year turnaround in NBA history. And everyone was drooling over this team.

Then the NBA playoffs began. The Celtics first match-up seemed harmless enough, the Atlanta Hawks. Harmless enough to look past that is. The Celtics played brilliantly at home, and brutally bad on the road. The Hawks brought the Celtics to the brink, to which Boston responded with a 34 point blowout in Game 7. This is when everybody started to question the Celtics. Were they tough enough? Was this the team that we thought they were? Was this team built for the playoffs, or just a fantastic regular season? After 3 losses...

Second round brought more of the same. Three great games at home. Three horrible games on the road. And the doubts grew louder. For me, the only game that got me worried was Game 6 in Cleveland in which the Celts only scored 69 points and failed to score more than 20 points in any quarter. Despite Boston coming back in Game 7 for the series win behind Paul Pierce's 41 point masterful performance. But by then, most people outside of Boston were off the bandwagon. Most analysts I heard predicted the Pistons would beat the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. I think this doubt may have crept into the Celtics mind and instead created a new motivation; to prove people wrong. The KG's showed marked improvement and even won two road games along the way in advancing to the NBA Finals for the 1st time since 1987. But still, people weren't drinking the kool-aid.

This time, they may have had good reasoning, the Celtics opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers had breezed through the Western Conference playoffs, including a 4-1 whoopin' of the usually formidable San Antonio Spurs. They had the newly named MVP of the league in Kobe Bryant. All but about two people I saw picked the Lakers to win, some in 5 games, some in 6 games. Were these people watching the same team I was watching all year long?? The best defensive team in the league. The team with the best FG% against defense. The team with 3 future hall of famers. The team with the best home record in the NBA. The team with the best road record in the NBA. The team that had beat the Lakers twice during the regular season, albeit without Pau Gasol. I guess they weren't. The first two games in Boston were defined by brutal bad defense by the Lakers and brutally good defense by the Celtics. Boston held the best player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, to around 40 % shooting, after limiting him to 33% shooting during the regular season. Pau Gasol has been greatly outplayed by Kevin Garnett. Gasol looks as soft as freshly baked bread. Lamar Odom, having his best overall season of his career, looks completely lost. Boston has out-hustled, out-rebounded, and out-worked this Lakers squad. After the last game, the Zen-Master, Phil Jackson, complained that Leon Powe, a little used reserve who went off in Game 2 for 21 points, went to the free throw line more than his entire team did. There's a simple reason. The more aggressive team ALWAYS gets the calls. Its that way in every form of basketball at every level. Anyone who watches this series can see that, so far, his team is settling for jump shots and getting beat to every loose ball.

Things may change a great deal tonight in Game 3 in Los Angeles. I will not be surprised if the Lakers win this game. The crowd will be going crazy and its enough to help them win one. But they just can't win this series after the performance they showed in the first two games of the series. They wont be able to beat the Celtics 4 out of 5, of which two of those games are in Boston. I'm not just saying this because as many know, we have a rooting interest in seeing Kev win his first title. And I'm not saying this because the Lakers are a bad team, because they aren't by any stretch of the imagination. The Lakers are probably the best passing team that I have seen in the NBA since I have been old enough to understand these kinds of things. But you can't get past a team that, right now, refuses to lose. You can't get past Paul Pierce's will to win. And you can't get past KG's heart. All that, plus a 2-0 lead, adds up to a parade down the middle of downtown Boston in about a week and a half.


The Inevitable Muck-up said...

I want KG to get his title this year but I'd also like to see a rematch next year with a healthy Bynum. I think he might have been be the difference between a Celtics title and a Lakers title.

Neubiedamus said...

That might be true indeed, sir, but think of it this way.. with a healthy Bynum, the Lakers might not feel the desperation to give up 2 first round picks (and Garbage) to get Pau Gasol and maybe he lands somewhere else, like a Phoenix or somewhere. One can only wonder. I can only say they are gonna be a beast next year when, (If) Bynum comes back.

The Inevitable Muck-up said...

Agreed. I had thought of that, but if I remember correctly there was hope of Bynum coming back this season after the trade had already been made.