“Sometimes you feel tired, feel weak. And when you feel weak, you feel like you want to just give up. But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of you.” – Eminem, Till I Collapse
I quote “Till I Collapse” partially as a tribute to Nate Dogg, who was featured in the song and (R.I.P.) passed away yesterday. I wanted to shout out Nate Dogg, and, frankly, “Till I Collapse” seemed like a better choice than “I’ve got hoes in different area codes.”
The quote also properly describes the current state of the Boston Celtics, who now sit one-half game behind the Chicago Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s top spot, with the Indiana Pacers awaiting the Celtics tonight. The Celtics seem stuck in a “dog days of March” rut, losing three of their last four games (none of the losses to the league’s elite) at this inopportune juncture of the season. They need to find that inner strength and just, umm, pull that shit out of themselves.
Rajon Rondo has suddenly become an average point guard, capable of being severely outplayed by Mo Williams and Brandon Jennings (but hopefully not Darren Collison). Boston’s offense, which was supposed to improve with the additions of Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green, has been stuck in quicksand and could use a jolt of energy (perhaps in the form of Delonte West?). Meanwhile, the defense has also suffered. (Boston Herald)
“There’s 17 games left,” said Paul Pierce, another scoreboard watcher who right after the New Jersey loss knew exactly what was left of the season, and exactly how long the Celtics have to fix whatever is ailing them.
“We have to get better,” Ray Allen added. “The trades are over, all of the guys are here that we are going to have.”
The goal has always been home-court advantage, since an 83-79 loss sent the Celtics home for the summer with tears welled up in their eyes. There are 17 games to fight for the conference’s top seed and form chemistry with all the new additions, 17 games to fend off Chicago and earn a path of least resistance to the Finals.
The Pacers are tonight’s foe, and, umm, Tyler Hansbrough has become their top dog? Sounds strange, to anyone who has paid attention the past two seasons, but it’s true. Scoring at least 20 points in each of his last five games, Hansbrough is making Larry Bird look smart for drafting him.
The bruiser’s game has not changed much since his college days, though Gerald Henderson no longer aims elbows at his head. Hansbrough still shoots hook shots from his hip, still throws his body around like a fullback, still plays basketball like the next rebound or layup will result in life or death, still… dunks on Amare Stoudemire? Josh McRoberts calls Hansbrough “funny to watch, in a good way,” and the former North Carolina star, finally returning to game shape after a battle with vertigo, has earned the trust of new coach Frank Voegel.
Still, no matter how well Psycho T has played lately, the Celtics should beat the Indiana Pacers, and they could really use the win to hold off the surging Bulls.
Which reminds me: I almost led with a different quote, this one actually by Nate Dogg.
“They gonna come up real quick,” he sang in Warren G’s Regulate. “Before they start to clown, I best pull out my strap and lay those busters down.”
Understand the comparison?