The Celtics are just one game behind Cleveland in the race for best record in the Eastern Conference with six weeks to go, but many people are encouraging the defending champs to ease up, like Usain Bolt, down the stretch. Get healthy. Get rested. Get Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens in the game. And give away the edge that made it possible for this team to win it all last year.
Is that about right?
The headline on one Celtics fan blog yesterday asked, “Is second place that bad?” That noise you heard was Red Auerbach choking on his Hoya de Monterrey from beyond the grave. Maybe second place wouldn’t be so bad if this were baseball or football or Q-school. Sometimes in sports, homecourt advantage is just one small factor, like the direction of the wind or the hemorrhoids of the homeplate umpire. And sometimes the homecourt can give you a bigger edge than A-Rod’s cousin. You want an example? See Banner No. 17.
First of all, let me start off with the fact that I like Gerry's writing and I'm honored to have been mentioned in his column. On the other hand, (and I say this with a smile) would it have killed him to mention the blog by name? I know blogs are killing the newspaper industry, but we also link to their articles and increase author name recognition at every chance.
That aside he does make some good points and presents them in a clever way. I just disagree with his central premise. I think I made it clear that home court would be the ideal. We all know what happened in last year's playoffs. The first two rounds have been hammered into our heads by the local scribes all year long.
However, I still say that the reason last year's playoffs stood out so much was the fact that it was so unusual. How often do you see a series where no team picks up an away game? And by the way, ask Detroit if the Celtics can win on the road in the playoffs. Ask the Lakers. If the Celtics couldn't win on the road "Celtics fans would still be wondering if that Al Jefferson-for-KG deal was a good move" as Gerry would say.
Allow me to turn this around on Gerry.
The bottom line is the Celtics have a better chance of overtaking the Cavs in the next six weeks than they do of beating them in Cleveland in the playoffs.
Really? Is that so?
So a team down 5 players (including 2 of their top 4) has a better chance of finishing out the regular season with a better record than a full strength Cavs team? Or are you simply conceding that the Cavs are going to thump the Celtics in the playoffs and we need every last inch of help that we can get? I guess having the best starting five and a whole team with Championship experience doesn't create the same level of confidence that it used to.
So by all means, run Paul and Ray into the ground. Rush players back from injury. Go ahead and push the team past their limit on mile 18 of the Boston Marathon. Just don't come crying to me when they sputter and fail on Heartbreak Hill.
Understand that this is all a little tounge in cheek. I don't think our opinions are that divergent from each other. I understand that home court is important and I'm sure Gerry understands that this is a good team facing some injury concerns right now.
I'm not saying to pull a Usain Bolt (unless we are so far ahead of the pack that we could do so and still finish first - like we did last year). I'm saying Doc needs to bite the bullet and give the stars some added rest (which he admits he has to do). I'm saying that we can't rush the injured players back (which everyone says is the right thing to do). I'm saying the players on the court should always play to win the game but the fans should be prepared to let a few games slip and not hit the panic button.
But hey, I'm just an anonymous blogger. What do I know?