Goosebumps. That’s what I woke up with this morning. Of course, it was probably because my shirt was off, my covers were laying on the floor, and the A.C. was blasting. I was fucking freezing.
But after I got out of bed I turned off the A.C., took a nice warm shower, hid my beer gut with a shirt and started reading every Celtics article I could find. And the goosebumps returned.
The Celtics have an opportunity to win a championship tonight, and every quote I read let that sink in one more time. Each quote brought a smile to my face and those tender little bumps to my forearms.
- “When our opportunity comes we’ll be standing right there, and we’ll have our moment.”
- “I think I’m going to see urgency, desperation, a no-quit attitude.”
- “I think along the way, people forgot, forgot who we were and what we were capable of. We got back to that mentality, but it didn’t shake us at all. We didn’t worry about what people said, what they thought. People were saying that we were a team that was old, but here we are. We’re capable, that’s the most important thing and we all knew it.”
- “And with the severity of the game, it’s all out on both ends, for both teams. This will probably be the hardest game of the season, if not of the series, if not of everybody’s career, this game coming up.”
- “The thing about me, when I step on this court, NBA Finals, I don’t want to have no regrets at the end of the series. Whatever I do I want to be aggressive with the ball, go out and play as hard as I can 48 minutes. That’s what I’m trying to do to finish out this series.”
- “It’s those small little battles that go on in the game sometimes that seem like they’re necessary. You can never back down. You have to push forward every opportunity you can.”
People will bring up the Big Three era Celtics’ record while trying to close out games on the road — 1-7 — and that’s a legitimate concern. In the last three postseasons, the Celtics have closed out only the ’08 Pistons on the road; now, they’ll have to do it against a crew that’s probably the best team they’ve played over the three years. Though their road closeout mark has been poor, the Celtics have one thing on their side: As NBA.com’s Steve Ashburner points out, in all of those seven losses the Celtics were able to rely on going back home to end the series. They didn’t win on the road but they DIDN’T HAVE TO. There’s a huge psychological difference between knowing you can come home for another game and knowing you have to end it on the road or else. The Celtics have a sense of urgency they’ve never had on the road before, and — when you add that they’ve finally learned how to manufacture playoff wins on the road — that bodes well for the Celtics’ chances.
That said, the Celtics shouldn’t have an attitude that they only have to take one of two games — they should be desperate to win tonight. Stomp on the Lakers while they’re down, while their confidence level is low, while Kobe Bryant is still furious with his teammates and unwilling to involve them in the gameplan. End it now, in Game 6, before having to face basketball’s best shot-maker, its most-admired clutch artist, in an NBA Finals Game 7 in his own backyard.
The urgency is high, the stakes are even higher and the Celtics are trying to do something I could barely even dream about a couple months ago.
Will tonight be the last night of the 2010 NBA season?