The immortal JE Skeets believes the C’s should use the regular season as another 82-game rest stop. Why should the Celtics risk injury, he wonders, when they know they can beat anybody, anywhere?
There are merits to Skeets’s theory, of course. Last year offered some proof. The C’s conserved energy all season, coasted through the final few months, and entered the playoffs like a wounded duck. Then they showed what a little R & R can do, stomping on the Eastern Conference before falling six minutes short of an 18th banner. (Please, somebody hold me back. I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking, maybe six feet ain’t so far down.)
There’s also the other side to Skeet’s theory, which is why I’m entirely against another regular season worthy of the nursing home. Never mind that last year was excruciating to watch, as I wrote the Celtics off 957 separate times after embarrasing, half-assed losses. My own feelings are secondary, so my real qualms with another weak regular season are as follows.
- Home-court advantage remains important – Yeah, the Celtics proved they can beat teams on the road. They smoked Cleveland, humiliated Orlando and came within 360 seconds of eliminating the Lakers at the Staples Center. But imagine if Game 7 (the thought immediately brings me a headache) had been in the Garden. That 13-point lead would have been insurmountable. The crowd would have caused LA to back down and helped surge Boston to victory. If that game had been played at the Garden, the Celtics would be the defending champs. Nobody can tell me otherwise.
- Regular season habits haunt you at the worst time – What were the C’s biggest weaknesses in the regular season? Rebounding, turnovers and late-game execution. And what haunted them in Game 7 and ultimately led to their collapse? Exactly. Rebounding, turnovers and late-game execution. Instead of taking the regular season to catch up on beauty sleep, the C’s should work on their weaknesses. Then they won’t come back to bite them in the ass at the worst possible time.
Rest would be nice, but it’s more important that the Celtics use the regular season as a tool. My high school coach used to say something every day: use today as a day to improve, and tomorrow we’ll be a better team. The Celtics should follow his advice.