This is just going to be a fantastic year. Anyway, here's 10 things to ponder:
1) The Nutmeg Jinx
Now that the team is good again, do you ever wonder why they were so bad for so long? It could have been due to more than just mismanagement— likely all that losing was directly caused by the greatly underpublicized Nutmeg Jinx. Well, here and now I'm lifting the information blackout on this pernicious curse.
In the 1989-90 season the Boston Celtics played their final regular season game in Hartford, Connecticut. For many years the Celtics had used Hartford as a satellite home site, hosting a few games there each year. After that season the team pulled out, never to return again. Little did they realize that in doing so they awakened powerful and angry spirits from their neighboring state, because from that time forward the Celtics played consistently bad basketball. That is until now.
So what happened to diffuse the hex? Actually it was very simple: this June the Celtics traded for UCONN luminary Ray Allen, and in a single moment the great jinx of Connecticut vanished. The Seattle deal served as an instant exorcism. Since the draft day trade nothing has gone wrong for the team. It opened the door for Kevin Garnett...
...and it added guys like Eddie House, Scot Pollard, and James (3 point dagger) Posey for "free" (free- meaning no picks or players were given up to get these guys). With the vindictive spirits of Hartford placated, the CT Jinx turned upside down. Once Allen and KG arrived lots of players suddenly wanted to follow. In essence the Celtics traded Jefferson, Gomes, West, Szczerbiak, Green, a bunch of empty shells, and a few picks for Garnett, Posey, Pollard, House, Glen Davis, and the jinx-busting talisman himself, Ray Allen.
In case you're wondering— No, Travis Knight doesn't count and Vin Baker doesn't count either. They only made the Nutmeg spirits even more irate. Only the pure Huskie goodness of Ray Allen could break the wicked spell.
3) Double Teams and Title Dreams
Quality is great. You obviously need it to win a title, but if you get quality AND quantity something magical happens. (Hey this is another "value added" subject. I think there's a theme going.)
The Celtics have three uberstars. That opens up a world of possibilities over having only one or two top players. For example, if you're Houston the opposition can double team McGrady or Yao whenever they want. There's always a lesser player to sag off. With Boston it's not possible. It's just a matter of numbers. You need six defenders to double team three guys at once, and according to close interpretation of the NBA rulebook, having six players on the floor at one time is illegal.
Wait there's more: When one of your three is Kevin Garnett, you don't HAVE to double team on the defensive end yourself. Think about Dallas or San Antonio. They love having you double team Nowitzki or Duncan, because it tears huge holes in your defense. But Garnett can play either of those formidable Texans straight up. With Garnett doing his thing, the team defense remains intact, and because of that Boston could beat those guys. Yes I said it.
4) The Fork In The Road
What if the Celtics kept the 5th pick? I mean aside from still having the Nutmeg Jinx in full raging operation, this would have remained a young, developing team.
Personally, I can't quite let go of the old-young guys. I find myself checking the box scores from every Supersonics and Timberwolves games to see how Al, Ryan, Delonte and Gerald are doing. I saw Minnesota fall just short against the Knicks and thought, "That very easily could have been us." I bet there are plenty of other Celtics fans with a compulsive thing for Seattle and Minnesota.
5) That Old Time Feeling
It's SOOOooo great to be hated again. Everywhere you go on the internet, people hate the Celtics. Ancient animosities have been reawakened and new ones have been born. It's just like the good old days! In this league you can tell you have a team when everyone despises you. I'm so happy.
6) Bad Breaks, Who Cares?
For many years if anything went wrong in a game, the Celtics lost. This year even if a lot of bad things happen, the Celtics can still win. In Toronto they faced a good team, on the road, who had been playing fabulously. Pierce had an off night. Three starters got into severe foul trouble. Rondo had his worst game ever. Guess what? They won anyway! They overcame everything and made their own breaks. That's what winning teams do.
7) Paul Pierce's Hidden Value
(More value added.) One reason Shaq's teams historically have won big was that despite his own atrocious free throw shooting, he always drew so many fouls. As a result his club regularly got into the free throw bonus early in most quarters. This allowed his teammates to get many extra foul shots.
The same is true of Paul Pierce. He draws so many fouls driving to the basket that this Celtics team will benefit in the same way. It's a huge advantage. Don't forget, free throwing should be an enormous strength now with sharpshooters like Ray Allen, Eddie House and others aboard.
8) Doc's Altered Role
Since Doc River's arrived he's mostly had a very young team and has spent much of his energy during every game, teaching. During timeouts you'd always see him pulling a young player aside and explaining what he did right or wrong. This year with the tadpoles mostly bench-bound, Doc has been coaching, not just educating.
9) Your Reward Is Fluff
Another sign that the team has arrived: Comcast has added a fluffy magazine show on the Celtics. Um- woohoo? I would file this under the category of: Harmless.
By the way, I thought Laura Behnke did very well filling in for Gary Tanguay last Sunday. (I mean its not like Gary is a great student of the game, being distracted all the time by the baseball and football guys.) All any host has to do on that pregame show is toss scripted questions to Donny Marshall and "send it back to Mike and Tommy." Still, good for her.
10) People I Wish Were Alive To See This Season:
Red Auerbach, Johnny Most (no disrespect to Sean Grande, but I'd LOVE to hear Johnny calling this team's games), Dennis Johnson, and Doc River's dad. It's a shame Grady Rivers couldn't have stuck around one more year to watch his son really succeed as a coach.