My girlfriend plays field hockey, so — being the best boyfriend ever born in Massachusetts — I went to almost all her games. Believe me, it was a sacrifice. Watching field hockey is like gouging your eyes with 14-inch fingernails until your retinas start to bleed. Except worse. I’ve had surgeries, broken bones, sprained ankles and a shoulder I couldn’t lift, but in my entire life only one thing has been more painful than watching field hockey:
Last year’s Boston Celtics regular season.
Don’t believe me? Then you apparently don’t know the depths of my fandom. You don’t understand that I fall asleep and dream about Shaq’s low-post game. About Paul Pierce’s stepback jumper. This one time last week, I jumped out of sleep in a cold sweat, shivering with tears streaming down my face. I’d had a nightmare that KG’s knee failed to progress like it was supposed to. I have a sickness, folks. It can’t be cured.
Which is why last regular season left me short of breath and damn near a heart attack. It wasn’t that the Celtics lost games — I’ve lived through the Vitaly Potapenko and Marty Conlon days, remember. It was that they should have been winning them. Hoping, but never truly trusting, that Doc Rivers had a genius plan to conserve energy during the first 82 games, I watched the Celtics drunkenly stumble through the final two-thirds of the year. As I viewed the Celtics’ meltdown, I chucked remote controls at my parents. I threw TV sets halfway across the state. I swore like a trucker, kicked my dogs, and came THIS CLOSE to becoming a drug junkie.
So it’s a good thing the Celtics don’t plan to have another shitty regular season. “”I do not want to repeat what we went through last year,” Doc Rivers told ESPN Boston. Thank God. Neither do I, neither do my remote controls, and neither do my dogs. ”We’re not going to use the veteran thing as an excuse not to work, we just can’t. Experience is great if we use it, but we can’t use experience as a crutch. That’s what we’ve got to stay away from.”
“We don’t give games away,” Paul Pierce chimed in, even though they sure as hell seemed to last year. “We want to win as many games as possible, get home-court advantage, and that will give us an advantage in the playoffs.” And it will keep me sane, and relatively healthy. For a sicko fan like me, wins are like medicine.
In a revamped Eastern Conference, the Celtics will need as many wins as they can get. “You go through a lull this year like we did last year and you’ll end up being a seventh seed,” Rivers said. “There simply are too many good teams.”
But it will be tough to tell the Celtics the regular season matters, after they spent last playoffs proving that it doesn’t have to. Right?
“What you can say to them,” Rivers explained, “is that if we had won more games and taken care of business at home, then Game 7 would have been in Boston and that would have made a huge difference.”
Damn it, Doc. Don’t make me cry. Do you know how many times I’ve wondered what if? What if that 13-point lead in The Game That Must Not Be Named had been in Boston? The C’s would be champs.
“The focus now is playing a great regular season,” Ray Allen said. Can I be the first one to predict 72 wins this year?