I’ve noticed that I only get linked to by Deadspin when I’m being particularly sappy or melodramatic. I guess that’s to be expected since Will and most other national bloggers have typecast Boston fans as overly emotional, egotistic yet fatalistic attention fiends. That’s ok, I get it. Sometimes it is even true. Ok, it’s usually true.
I’ve also noticed that after losses a lot of people come to this site looking for someone to put their emotions into words for a sort of online therapy session. I can only find that incredibly flattering. I offer my deepest apologies for not being able to offer up much of anything last night. You see, I was too busy coughing up a lung and going through a box of tissues (not crying, but that would have been appropriate too).
So to try to make it up to you, I offer up this seven step guide for dealing with the road woes the Celtics have been having lately.
1. Shock & Denial
I'm still having trouble admitting that the Hawks series went 7 games. Watching the first quarter of game 3 against the Cavs was like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Like some cosmic practical joker replaced our current roster with the worst of last year's team. Suddenly Rondo was Telfair, Pierce was Green, and KG was Kandi Man. It is just too surreal to comprehend how a 66 win team could look this bad in the playoffs. We thought the Dallas Mavericks were supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a blueprint.
Collectively we feel almost like we've been misled or set up. We thought this team was going to steamroll through the first round and handle their business in the second round. At the very least, we didn't think we'd lose every single road game. It hurts to be let down like that.
As for the guilt, well I guess everyone kinda wonders what karmic hoops gods they upset by some alteration of routine. I mean, we are talking Celtics fans after all. Or perhaps if you are one of those kinds of fans that started taunting Cavs fans after the first 2 games, you're feeling pretty sheepish right now. But don't forget what Robin Williams said to Will Hunting, "Its not your fault. Its not your fault."
3. Anger & Bargaining
If the reaction after game 3 was still very much in the shock and denial phase then game 4 slammed home the start of the anger phase with a sledgehammer. Ticked off fans with an axe to grind and no single scapegoat to focus on flailed about in the chat and on the forums and comments of this blog. Some blamed Doc on reflex. Some picked out one player or another. Some just blamed the refs. I still can't bring myself to blame any one person because that would be letting the rest of the team off the hook.
As for the "bargaining," I think you could translate that into the "debating" that goes on here on a daily basis. Does the blame go on Doc's rotations and adjustments or the players executions and effort? Was there something strategic that we could have done differently that would have given us the edge? How much did the regular season (wrapping up early, resting starters down the stretch) effect the postseason? Everyone has an opinion and is looking to convince everyone that theirs is the best theory.
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
Of course at some point fans realize that no matter how much they dissect, debate, and discuss the game, it will never be replayed. Nothing we can do will put a win on the record and a sense of helplessness sets in. Maybe we are doomed to watch our team waste a 66 win year. We've only got a short window with this core group of players. If this falls apart, we could be watching a one forth or even one third of that window close in our faces. We suffered through the ML Carr years and the Rick Pitino years and the Ainge rebuilding years for this?
Many fans are either outside the Boston area or surrounded by Sox fans that are ready to jump off this basketball bandwagon the second the clouds roll in. Yep, sometimes it can be a little lonely as a Celtics diehard. If it wasn't, we wouldn't need this site to commiserate on.
5. The Upward Turn
At this point it is healthy to take stock of where we stand right now. All is not lost. The team hasn't been eliminated. We're a long way from out of it. The series is tied up and the Celtics still hold home court advantage. Take a look around the rest of the playoffs and you'll find out that the home team has won all but one game (through early Tues. night). The Cavaliers are a pretty good team that happens to feature one of the top 3 or 4 players in the game. Nobody ever said the playoffs would be easy. Ok, some did (looking at you Hollinger) but they shouldn't have.
6. Reconstruction & Working Through
The same reasons we won all the games in the regular season are still in place. Our foe has proven themselves as worthy adversaries, and if this team really does expect to be champions, they are going to have to prove it now. Both sides have been playing some great defense and the Celtics have the potential to win that battle. The big three haven't really stepped up lately, but there's little reason to believe that they can't.
7. Acceptance & Hope
So here we are. Let's accept it. This team stinks on the road. Nobody can explain it. They were fine in the regular season, but somehow the higher pressure of road playoff games is getting to this group. It is no longer a little monkey on their backs. Nor is it any longer the 300 lb. gorilla in the room. It is officially the 300 lb. gorilla on their backs.
With that said there's still hope that they can knock that big ape off his perch by closing this series out in 6 on the Cavaliers home court. They need to seize the momentum at home and keep the throttle up. It can be done. If it still takes 7 games but the team is able to get into the Eastern Conference Finals, then we'll take that too. Maybe the ape will still be there as we face the Pistons, but at least we'll have that shot.
Bottom line, if this team goes on to eventually win the title, all of this will quickly be forgotten. Perhaps the victory will be that much sweeter for the blood, sweat, and tears put into it. The goal is the same. Banner 17 or bust.
So if you are going to the game, give 'em all that home court advantage loving that you can. In fact, give them enough to take on the road with them.