Two games ago, I had a conversation with a wise man old enough to see all the Bird championships:
Wise man: “This is the best Celtics team I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Me: “Really? Umm, it’s only 11 games into the season. I know the C’s just won by 31 points, but, umm, it was against the Washington Wizards. And, umm, John Wall didn’t play.”
Wise man: “But did you see Delonte West? He’s exactly what the Celtics need. West fortifies the bench, Shaq’s been perfect in the starting lineup, and Rajon Rondo is the best point guard I’ve seen wear Green. Not to mention Garnett and Pierce look three years younger.”
Me: “Yes, but best Celtics team you’ve seen? Do you remember ’86? DO YOU REMEMBER ’86?????”
Flash forward to yesterday, conversation with same wise man.
Wise man: “They’re going to do this shit again? Are you [bleeping] kidding me? How the hell can they be bored with the regular season already? That was disgusting. I can’t even stand to watch this team. The next 70 games are going to be hell.”
Me: “Really? Umm, I know it wasn’t the most impressive performance, but things happen sometimes. It’s only two games. If the season ended today, the Celtics would still be the Eastern Conference’s number one seed.”
Wise man: “Number one seed? You’ve gotta be kidding me with that shit. That’ll be gone in a week. They’ll be lucky to earn the fourth seed.”
Me: “Wait, weren’t you the one who told me this was the best Celtics team you’ve ever seen? Four days ago?”
Wise man: “Well, yeah, but…”
Now, my thoughts
Paul Pierce is talking about old habits (read: boredom) creeping back in, it’s easy to see that old habits (read: boredom) have affected the Celtics in two (shitty) losses in a row, and angry commenters are starting to gain steam on Celtics web sites everywhere.
It’s not panic time yet, but perhaps it’s time to start worrying. At least a little bit.
Just please don’t rationalize it like Gary Washburn tried to. (Sorry, Gary, I love your stuff. Nothing personal.)
The Celtics are going to have trouble with more athletic teams, exemplified by the Raptors’ ability to get to the rim easily with the quickness of their wingmen. The Celtics are a top-notch defensive team, but “team’’ is the operative word. They struggle with some one-on-one matchups.
Please don’t try to tell me the Celtics struggled with one-on-one matchups, or that they struggle with more athletic teams. They have had no problems with the Heat, who — need I remind you? — start both Dwyane Wade and Lebron James. Now I’m supposed to just accept that Sonny Weems and Leandro Barbosa had their way? Umm, no thanks. I’ll continue to believe Boston is capable of stopping any team, regardless of the quality of athletes. Actually, when the C’s are at their best they thrive at taking players’ athleticism out of play. They thrive at making sure opponents don’t just deal with one-on-one matchups — they deal with an entire team defense. Sure, Lebron can dunk with the best of them and can’t be stopped by any one human being, but if the Celtics pack in their defense and force him into taking tough, contested shots, he’s going to struggle.
Maybe Washburn meant the Raptors’ frontcourt was too athletic for Boston to handle. But wait, don’t the Raptors start Reggie Evans and Andrea Bargnani? They aren’t exactly two human pogo sticks. Amir Johnson is pretty athletic, but let’s be serious: the Celtics had trouble matching up with Toronto mostly because the Celtics didn’t give a damn. Johnson, Bargnani and Evans were effective because the C’s didn’t bring the mental or physical effort they needed to.
There’s no need to be as upset as John from Red’s Army, I don’t think. But hey, maybe we should be.
Do I need to go into this rant already? The one where fans fill the arena for a reason? The one where fans pay good money to come see you guys play. The one where the money those fans pay directly ends up in your multi-millionaire pockets so can live the lives you lead?
Do you guys think that money magically appears in Wyc Grousbeck’s bank account? You think 18,000 people just waltz in there for free?
I expected letdowns during the season. I told myself not to get upset over those letdowns. But I expected them later. I expected the guys to come out hot… THEN get bored in January and February… then start turning it on again before the playoffs. I was prepared to accept that.
I’m not, however, prepared to accept “bored” November losses to an Oklahoma City team at home without its two best players… and a bad Toronto team missing half its roster to a trade.
The season just started fellas. And I don’t give a damn about bad officiating because the refs didn’t put you in those situations. You did. You sleep-walked through those games and put yourself into a spot where bad calls could hurt you.
It was only one game, two if you count the OKC game, but it reminds us of last year. We’re afraid of a repeat performance, of another hellish regular season. The Celtics are like an alcoholic family member. If someone without aloholicism goes out one night and gets tanked, it’s no big deal. People get drunk sometimes. It happens. But if an alcoholic goes out one night and drinks one Four Lokos too many, it’s incredibly troublesome. They’ve been down that path before, and you’ve got to be afraid they’re going to fall back into their old habits.
What I’m trying to say is this: If the Celtics hadn’t been so bored during last regular season, these two games wouldn’t be anything to worry about. But they HAVE done this before, and so we wonder if they’re headed back down the wrong path.
Stay off the booze, Celtics. I can’t take this again.