The Celtics Fooled Us All

And by “us” I mean “you,” because I believed in them from the beginning. What? You don’t believe me? Just look at my Eastern Conference Playoff Preview.

You know, the one where I predicted that the Celtics would win in 5?

I may have spoken a tad prematurely because the New York Knicks gave them just about all that they could handle. It could go 6 if the Knicks are going to play like this, with their star perimeter player shooting a feeble 5-for-18 from the field. Suppose he gets his act together, the Celtics might be in serious trouble.

Despite their championship poise and buckets of playoff games played (some 700+ for each player on their roster when added together), the Celtics had no answer for one Amar’e J. Stoudemire (His middle initial isn’t really J. I just made that up for affect). STAT-Standing Tall and Talented-really made “Big Baby” eat his Gerber’s baby food on Sunday, racking up an impressive 28-and-10 performance, while missing only 6 of his 18 shots. Stoudemire dominated the Celtics frontcourt in ways that I have never seen a big man outside of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum do.

Kevin Garnett looked every bit of 34 while trying to guard him (going on 35 a month from Tuesday). Needless to say, it was to no avail. Outside of STAT, the Knicks looked lost in the final quarter, jacking up shots that had no business being launched, and rushing things when they should have taken their time. Carmelo Anthony’s attempt at a game-winner served as a microcosm for how New York played down the stretch: rushed, frantic, and, quite frankly, scared. Anthony had around 7 seconds left when he launched the distance three-pointer over the contesting arms of Allen. It was a shot he never should have taken.

Pierce should not be able to guard Anthony, and Allen shouldn’t have a prayer at guarding Anthony. Honestly, Carmelo let them both off the hook. He took nary a good shot down the stretch, and his shooting percentage paid for it (he was 5-for-18 on the night). While I think that Pierce is a very good defender (this guy does a great job guarding both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant when he wants to), he is not physically equipped to deal with the bully that is Carmelo Anthony. But when Carmelo plays like he did tonight, even Steve Nash could guard him.

The Knicks looked like they were playing to not lose, not playing to win. Having played the entire game with a shocking lead, they were too busy playing the clock and not the score. Or is it the score and not the clock? I forget. But me forgetting isn’t going to cost me anything close to what it cost them.

The Celtics’ half-court defense stymied New York’s offense in the second half. Every look they got was contested, and that was after having to swing the ball around relentlessly. In the end, it was Ray Allen who hit the game-winning shot and defended the subsequent attempted game-winning shot. He was successful on both.

For all the hate I have for the Celtics (I once traded all my American dollars for 2 pesos because I hate the color green), I love the basketball IQ of Doc Rivers. Unlike the predictable plays that the Lakers and Thunder run, Doc sets his team up for success. He’s an X’s and O’s coach AND a player’s coach, which is hard to find. On top of that, he’s extremely quick-witted, especially with the media, which I marvel at because he’s the type of guy who could succeed at anything he does, but he chooses to coach basketball (which I totally support).

His team’s end-game execution is hard to stop because he puts the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce, who then gets a screen from one of the bigs, putting the pressure on the defense make the lose-lose decision of switching or fighting through the screen, and then goes into his patented step-back move. Depending on how well the defense is playing, he knows that they’re going to most likely sag off their guys and try to bother the shooter as much as possible. All the while, Ray Allen is spotting up around the three-point line just waiting for his number to get called. Well, today was that day.

Doc Rivers(left) and Ray Allen(right) discuss how easy it is for Allen to make three-pointers.

Even though this exact scenario didn’t happen, it usually does. And, like Allen showed today, he’s more than capable of burying a three-pointer (he’s kind of the best ever at it).

But it wasn’t just Allen who stole the show today. He was just one of the bandits. Jermaine O’Neal made his presence felt, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the field for 12 points, and protecting the paint with vigor. Yeah, that’s right. The same Jermaine O’Neal who only played 24 of 82 regular season games. Boston looked like it was saving him for the post-season.

The scary part of this is that they could have been better had Danny Ainge not gone rogue on the organization and traded his team’s sanity away for a guy with no natural position (Jeff Green, who’s a misfit in every sense of the word. By the way, it doesn’t look good for NBA prospect Derrick Williams that Green’s game is the person who his most resembles, bu that’s another story for another day). Had the Celtics kept their roster intact, we’d be looking at another NBA Finals appearance.

Fact.

They had the physical edge over every team in the East. No team has the size to deal with their prior length and strength. Shaq, Big Baby, Jermaine, KG, and Kendrick Perkins. That’s a starting 5 that weighs a ton. I’d be scared to be on the team bus with these guys when crossing over bridges.

I guess Ainge got one too many tickets from Highway Patrol for carrying excess weight as cargo.

The Celtics also possessed a psychological and chemical edge, too. They knew that they were the better team; they acted like they were tough because fat ass Perk had their back, and they felt like they couldn’t lose with their original starting 5. All that went away, and so did the easier road to the NBA Finals. Now, they’ll have to travel to Miami and beat the Heatles (which I envision them doing), and follow that up with a road trip to Chicago where they’ll face the league’s best player Derrick Rose.

Boston is too old to beat Chicago AND come out of the NBA Finals victorious. I wouldn’t count them out of making it to the ‘ship, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them there. Is that redundant? Let’ me clarify: I am not super confident that they’ll get out of the East, but it wouldn’t shock me to see them playing till June.

If they keep playing with the championship poise they displayed on Sunday night, the rest of the world shouldn’t be shocked, either.

If only the Lakers had a crowd like the one that inhabits TD North Bank, a.k.a. the Boston Gahhhden…

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3 Responses to “The Celtics Fooled Us All”

  1. amanda chism Says:

    You’re so awesome amigo!

  2. chappy81 Says:

    The Celtics should be worried. That game was way too close for comfort. Rondo needs to get his act together if they want to go far, he was blowing it with bad passes in the 4th quarter, that he usually makes. If the games are in the 80’s though, I think the Knicks are in trouble. If they want to win, I think it needs to be in the high 90’s….

  3. Tommy Says:

    Quite the article homes. I think the only person I know with more faith in the greens than you, is me. Much love to you for the boston respect, even though I know you hate them.

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