Dan Shaughnessy, who is firmly a believer, offers both sides in his piece for the Boston Globe. Here’s the for, in Shaughnessy’s words:
I’ve been a buyer all year long with these guys. Going through the motions through the holidays was just fine with me. I just wanted to see Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen still running the floor in April. So here we are. And they’re all healthy. Sort of.
Why can’t we make a case for them? The Celtics have the same starting five they had two years ago when they won the NBA championship. Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and sub Glen Davis are significantly better than they were two years ago. Garnett, Pierce, and Allen are two years older — sure, the miles have taken a toll on all three — but these are Hall of Fame-bound veterans who should play their best ball now that the games matter. Playoff schedules favor older teams because there are a lot of offdays packed into each series.
“Going into the playoffs, I don’t think there’s a team that our players feel we can’t beat,’’ said team president Danny Ainge.
So that’s the case for the Celtics having a chance at a title. Not exactly a compelling argument, with a lot of holes. A sort of healthy team with a bunch of underachieving and aging stars, and that’s supposed to make us believe? Come on, Shaughnessy, you’ve got to do better than that. But, oh, the off days! There’s hope after all!
Then again, perhaps Shaughnessy’s article is spot on. If you are still a believer (which I am… kind of), you’re a believer because of blind faith. That and the fact that, every once in a while, the Celtics put together a performance worthy of hope. If you’re a believer, it’s because you think the Celtics can flip the switch for the stretch run, even though you aren’t quite sure they ever had a switch to begin with. It’s because you think they can just jump in a hot tub and be taken straight back to 2008. It’s because you still hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, all the talk about being bored with the regular season was real.
But the case against the Celtics contending is much easier, as expressed by Cedric Maxwell in response to Shaughnessy’s optimism.
“That’s nice,” he said. “You fool.”