Does anyone remember 1983 against the Bucks? I do. Although I was a young Celtic-o-phile at the time, I vividly recall the general disgust of that season. The underlying theme was that Fitch had to go, and ultimately, he did. Now, I am not suggesting that Doc should go. I would never do that. Doc is as good a mind that is in the game. What we saw last night was another example of the futility of this club. Like '83, they just don't have it. Trading E House for Krypto-Nate, reminds me of the silliness of having Ray Williams serve as a key contributor to your club. Similarly, they are servicable pros who have their moments, albeit clearly they are players cut from different cloth. The point is that they are not Championship parts of a greater whole.
Let's talk about the greater "Whole," or is it "HOLE?" As in, "HOLE" in the head or "Hole" in the heart. What we are currently witnessing is alot like '83. Games with a bench full of blank stares. The players have started to tune themselves out, and that is a shame. The Celts have some of the strongest personalitites in the NBA, just like '83. The problem is that they have adopted a series of bad habits. Their problems seem less due to injuries than the hangover from injuries. Basketball is a game loaded with muscle memeory actions, and the boys in green have been out of sync since the first quarter of the year, when all the injuries started. They had the refreshed post-training camp attitude. They were ready to overcome last year, where they clearly were still championship caliber. We have all heard before that if the they had KG, they were looking at Flag Number 18. They don't rotate on defense, they don't take charges, they don't help each other up, they don't rebound well, and they don't stand up on the bench rooting for their teammates. As a result of this defensive discontinuity, the team has trouble finding efffective offense. They lost all of this once the various parts started to drop due to injuries. There are holes everywhere!
They fought hard last year, but they were missing their most important player: KG. In alot ways this year, they are missing their most important part again. Though this time, it is not a missing player. It is a missing pulse. The guys have gotten out of a groove. In sports, when you get off the proverbial freeway of success, you have a heck of a time finding the on-ramp again. Hey it took 22 years the last time we got off Highway 16, before we could get onto Highway 17. Given the general habits of the club, there is not sufficient time to re-boot the system to the early season groove. Also, don't forget that athletes decline quickly, and this appears to be the case. It hurts as fans to come to grips with this, but the reality is that before our very eyes, this club looks to have gone from top two or three to second tier in the NBA. I'd say much like San Antonio. There is a perennial powerhouse that is now relegated to play it out, with slim hopes of a championship. I think that the Celtics have crossed that barrier, and it is inevitable that this is a lost season. Don't be surprised if we get swept out in the first or second round, just like '83. The difference here is that this team doesn't have better years ahead, as in '83. The best is behind them. This is not the '69 team. They will not reach back and get there.
Look no furhter than their homw record to solidify this point. All championship teams win at home and onb the road. This team doesn't play well at home. The road record is good, although I think it is slanted due to early season success. When you don't win nearly all your home games, you are not tough enough to win it all. The bad habits are too numerous, and they won't overcome it.
The gap between them and Cleveland is Gand Canyon-like. Lebron is playing the best ball in the league, by far (Sorry Kobe lovers, but LBJ is Numero Uno). Milwaukee will give them problems if they stay healthy, and don't revert to pre-all star status. Forget it if we ever see Atlanta. No need to dwell on this. The Hawks have them dialed in. Etc. and so on...
So what is the message? Well here is the optomistic part of the movie. Look last night sucked, and we all know it. Every non-top team will have a few stinkers, no matter how odious, over the course of the season. The Grizzly game was just that: GRIZZLY! Move on people, enjoy the string being played out. Danny did a great thing giving us 2008. Enjoy Ray's 25 pointers, KG's fired up plays, Pierce's moments of brilliance. By the same token, accept the periodic crummy game. We got 17, and we'll start the work new for 18 this summer. There are less than twenty games left, so don't go through the last month and the playoffs miserable. This could be Sacramento- UGH!
The goose is cooked, so eat it! Dessert will be next year...