I’m pretty sure the NBA scheduled tonight’s game as a practical joke. Here’s a scene that probably happened the day the schedule was made:
“Ha! The Celtics play the Heat in the first game, right? So if they play the Cavs the next day, it will show everyone how badly it sucks to be from Cleveland!”
“Brilliant! The 500 credentialed media members will be down to double digits, the crowd will have one tenth the frenzy, and nobody outside of Boston or Cleveland will even care about the game. And that’s assuming that Clevelanders still care about the Cavs.”
“Even better, Mo Williams is a game-time decision. Everyone outside of Cleveland laughs because a Cav was mentioned in the same sentence as the word Decision, while all the Clevelanders cry silently into their pillows and try to talk themselves into the J.J. Hickson era.”
“You mean the Anderson Varejao era?”
“No, the J.J. Hickson era.”
“Either way, that sucks, huh? From Lebron to Anderson Varejao, the torch has been passed.”
“You mean from Lebron to J.J. Hickson.”
“Whatever. At least Clevelanders can say they live in a beautiful city.”
“Just kidding! Ha!”
“Phew. You had me there for a second. I thought you were insane.”
“But hey, you can’t be entirely down on Cleveland’s future. I mean, Dan Gilbert promised a title BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”
“Yeah, and then Gilbert’s most important acquisition this summer was signing Ramon Sessions. You know, unless you’re really high on Manny Harris or Samardo Samuels.”
“Yeah. Maybe Gilbert’s promise was an empty one.”
“Yup. Which is why it will be even funnier when we schedule the Cavs to play the Celtics right after the Heat do. Bwahahaha!”
On a more serious note
Tonight’s game could tell us a lot about the Celtics’ mind state at this stage of the season. After coming down from such an emotional high, playing Cleveland halfway across the country the next day isn’t like playing a basketball game: it’s like having to complete a chore, or get your tooth pulled, or… well, you get the point.
I think about what last year’s team (at least the team we saw during the second half of the regular season) would have done with tonight’s game, and I’m pretty sure they would have mailed it in, lost by 10 points or so, and in the process caused me to smash my television set into a million pieces. Then again, they never would have beaten the Heat (or any team?) at home.
We already know this year’s Celtics are deep, and we know they can perform when the stakes are high. But can they win the trap games this year? Games like tonight’s could be the difference between the third seed and the first seed.