On the 13th anniversary of Biggie Smalls’ death, it seems only appropriate to celebrate the Celtics’ Life After Death.
They died, you ask? Yes, they sure did. What else would you call losing by 20 points to the Cavs and then being humiliated — at home — by the Nets? (Other than perhaps Rock Bottom, but that’s another rapper.) If the Celtics weren’t dead after the New Jersey loss, they were — at the very least — on life support.
After the miserable loss, the Celtics’ obituary was written. Hoopsworld’s Mike Moreau wrote, “I just can’t fool myself anymore. I can’t deny what I see. I am putting my fork in the Celtics. To me, they are done.
“The attitude and swagger are gone, the defensive intimidation non-existent. The stranglehold the Celtics put on teams on the defensive end of the floor can’t be recreated and the offensive firepower isn’t there anymore. This is a shell of the team that won a title two years ago.
“Their loss to the New Jersey Nets was only the loudest example of the mediocrity that has been the Boston Celtics since their win over Orlando on Christmas Day. They are a pitiful 13-15 since. That can’t be attributed to only age and injury; that’s just a bad team.”
A bad team, indeed. The Celtics had a fork in them. They were already counted out, six feet under the ground in the eyes of most writers.
Then something funny happened: A winning streak was born from the ashes.
It hasn’t always been pretty, as close wins against the Pistons and Wizards suggest. Boston hasn’t beaten any great teams, or even very good ones. But wins are wins, and the Celtics are beginning what seems like a revival. A dominant attitude, absent in the face of the long haze that was the middle third of Boston’s season, has reappeared. The air of confidence born in 2008 is back, as is the physical play that has become a staple of Celtics basketball. The Celtics seem to be in the process of finding a lost season, after months of soul-searching brought nothing but heartache and mediocre play.
The defensive intimidation, swagger and attitude Moreau claimed to be non-existent have returned. Boston is back to scowling at foes, hounding them into bad shots, and intimidating teams with both their words and actions. The winning streak doesn’t prove that Boston is again a contender; four wins against mediocre-to-bad teams don’t allow grounds for that reclassification. But it sure feels like Boston has knocked its own pedestrian play to the canvas, emerging from the Nets loss a new and improved team ready to start rolling for the season’s stretch run.
Since that game, Boston has yet to lose. They are back to trash-talking the ears off opponents, leaving a wake of beaten and pissed-off players in their wake. Being loud and obnoxious doesn’t normally equate to greatness, but the Celtics — lifeless for far too long — needed a reversion to the cocky, self-assured Celtics of old.
Today, on Biggie’s death-day, we can nod our heads to some of his music and wonder what the rap world would have been like if Biggie — who would now be 37 (at that age, Danny Ainge probably would have wanted to sign him) — hadn’t been shot to death 13 years ago.
Biggie’s untimely death proved his own words, “I would never wish death upon nobody, ‘cuz there ain’t no coming back from death.”
But the Celtics are attempting to prove him wrong.
Even after being left for dead, if Boston continues to come together and leave its lackadaisical and uneven play in the past, The Sky is the Limit.
“Stay far from timid
Only make moves when ya heart’s in it
And live the phrase Sky’s The Limit
Motherf–ker… see you chumps on top”
– Biggie Smalls
Three things to look for in tonight’s game:
- Michael Finley’s debut? - Finley will be active tonight, but Doc Rivers doesn’t know how much he’ll play.
- Brandon Jennings’ shooting – Since Dec. 28, Jennings has shot under 50% in every game but one. (Feb. 17, vs. the Rockets was the lone exception.) Maybe Under Armour isn’t in such good hands after all.
- Kevin Garnett’s encore – A lot has been made of Garnett’s trash talk, but if it weren’t for the C’s comeback KG would have been the goat. He was SEVERELY outplayed by Andray Blatche, before putting the clamps on Blatche over the final six minutes. Let’s see what Garnett can do tonight.