“A totally different team today,” Kevin Garnett told CSNNE, describing his own team’s efforts compared to the previous game.
He just as easily could have been talking about the Celtics’ opponents.
One night after falling victim to the league-leading Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics used the Detroit Pistons as whipping boys, dominating the Pistons from start to finish. It was a thorough performance, one that — in and of itself — would seem to warrant talk that the Celtics are starting to round back into shape.
When coupled with the troubling loss to Lebron and His Crew, though, the win against the Pistons only served to illuminate an issue the Celtics have struggled with for months: They can beat mediocre teams, and sometimes even good ones. But when it comes to playing front-runners, the Celtics have been conspicuously absent from the win column.
Still, last night’s game wasn’t completely meaningless. On the contrary, it displayed mental and physical fortitude the likes of which I no longer knew the Celtics possessed. On the second night of a back-to-back in two different states, and coming off a crushing, deflating loss to a rival, it would have come as no surprise if the Celtics decided to put a postage stamp on this one and mail it in.
Instead, they played with a chip on their shoulders, clearly carrying the defeat to Cleveland close to their hearts as they passionately fought to regain a sense of pride, to patch together whatever momentum they can muster as the season’s stretch run continues.
Despite the ballsy performance, nothing Boston could have done last night would make me jump back on their Contender Bandwagon. I’ve fled that, at least until the time when the Celtics put together a game truly worthy of Contender status. You know, like beating a top-notch club. (Which, by the way, hasn’t happened since the Bush regime… Bush Sr., I mean.)
Until the Celtics can consistently give me a reason to smile, I will remain hopelessly pessimistic about the Men in Green. It’s not that I want to be, or even that I’m normally a pessimist. I’m actually a Glass Half Full kinda guy. But continuously getting my hopes up after brief displays of dominance has only set me up for the letdowns that have occurred every time the Celtics start to gather some steam.
So I’m done with the optimism, and I’m done with considering the Celtics a Contender. From now on, I will think nothing but bad thoughts about my beloved Celtics.
Of course, if Boston is just as dominant against the Knicks on Wednesday as they were last night, you’ll probably hear me crowing “THHHEEE CELLLTTIIICSSS ARREEE BACKKKK!!!!”
If I do, don’t believe me.
They aren’t back until the eternal pessimist proclaims them back. In other words, they aren’t back until they prove it night in and night out, and until they’ve done it against elite competition.
Until that day, beating the piss out of mediocre teams means very little.