You know in the Rocky series how all the fights are a little unrealistic because neither boxer even tries to defend himself from the onslaught of punches striking him in the head? How the fights are an endless array of uppercuts that land cleanly, hooks that nail their intended target every time and haymakers that connect but don’t end up being a knockout punch? How neither boxer even thinks about putting up his dukes for defensive purposes because he’s too busy plotting his next punch?
Celtics-Heat became Rocky-Drago, and Boston’s win felt more meaningful than the one on April 1st because the Heat brought their best effort. Nobody can claim the Heat played poorly or they were on the road or they didn’t realize the Celtics were legitimate contenders this season. Tonight was two teams who both brought their best effort and were both determined to prove themselves in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics met the Heat playing well and they beat them, on the road. They jumped out to an early 18-point lead, took a dozen clean uppercuts to the head and kept charging for more. There was no clutching, no time to gasp for breath and no quit in either team. The Celtics began swelling above their eye at one point but told Mick to cut it with a razor and came back even stronger. It felt like the ’11 playoffs for a little while, like the Celtics would fade down the stretch. But the Celtics kept pushing on. The Heat threw the kitchen sink and the bathroom toilet and the living room couch at the Celtics, but Boston still won.
I’m not saying the Celtics are now the Eastern Conference favorites. But who wants to meet them in the playoffs?
We’ll leave that as a rhetorical question while I search for a tranquilizer dart to bring my heart rate down.