I consider it my job to keep my finger on the pulse of Celtics fans everywhere. I think it is safe to say that the green blood of diehards is pumping a little bit harder these days. The stress is getting our heart rates up and not in a good way. There's a whole lot of noise on the blog these days and it stems from a growing trend of people choosing sides.
In one corner is the resolute optimist. Nothing they see or hear can dissuade them from believing in this team. They know it in their heart that when push comes to shove the C's will do the shoving and shame on you if you don't believe too.
In the other corner is the resigned realist. Nothing they see or hear can dissuade them from knowing that this team is destined for failure. They know in their heart that push came to shove months ago and the team was knocked on their butts and aren't getting back up and if you can't see that then you are blind.
Both sides are getting louder and louder as battle lines are drawn (so to speak). So far on this blog I believe there has been mostly good natured debate and not a lot of actual fighting. I hope that trend continues and I urge you once again, to respect each other at all times. With that disclaimer aside, I'd like to speak up for another group of people.
I think there's a lot of people that aren't ready to join one side or the other. They can see points on either side but don't get too worked up about it and thus perhaps get drowned out by all the excess noise.
I'll put my cards on the table. I'm in this group. I shall dub us the Optimistic Realists.
Call me blind if you like, but I can imagine a scenario where this team could be raising a banner on opening night next year. Question my faith if you must, but I can just as easily imagine a scenario where we are bounced in the first round. Just about anything could happen and I don't think I would be overly surprised by it. Excited or disappointed sure, but not surprised.
There's plenty to be optimistic about. Look at the last game. Sure the Bobcats are in a funk, but they are a legit playoff team this year and the Celtics handed them their lunch. Or to go to a macro analysis, look at the first few months of the season. This team was steamrolling opponents as well as they have in any of the last 3 years. It feels like things might be turning around and getting back to that pace.
Pierce just had one of his best games of the year. KG has looked as healthy as he has in the last year. Ray is on one of those rolls that evens out his season percentages and makes you forget that he ever was in a slump. If it wasn't for the flu bug that's been going around, we might have strung together a few games with a full roster. Can you imagine this club with a clean bill of health and locked in and focused on the playoffs? With some luck, we might just see that team again.
But luck can be fickle. I can see plenty to be pessimistic about as well. Or realistic if you wish. The taste of that Nets loss still hangs in the back of my mouth like next-morning pizza breath. The last two months have been a slow motion train wreck and I'm done listening to excuses. So what if everyone on the roster took turns wearing suits to games instead of warmups? Who cares if they are closer to assisted living than they are to making a living on assists? The team has flat out stunk for a lot longer than a Championship contender should.
We've seen far too many "statement" games where the only statement the team was making was "I don't care." I don't buy into Sheed's Kung Fu teacher theory either. A martial arts teacher might save a few tricks up his sleeve for when he or she needs it most, but they wouldn't give a half hearted effort until they were backed up against a wall. If anything, they would impart upon you that when the pressure is on, you must rely on your training. Or said another way, if you practice winning, you have a much better chance of winning.
So now what? Where do we go from here? Will this team lift our hearts or break them? Will the optimists be proven right or will the realists get bragging rights for the summer? I don't know and I don't care. I'll just sit here on the fence and enjoy the show.
I mean, if nothing else, this makes for some great drama. If I were somehow able to remove my emotional investment in the team, I would still be fascinated by the unfolding storylines. Does Pierce have one last run as the alpha-dog left in him? Will Garnett's body catch back up with his mouth? Will Rondo strike that perfect balance between exerting himself as a star and supporting the stars? Will Doc find a way to keep everyone on the same sheet of music?
This is must see TV right here but we can't see it because we're too busy making sure everyone knows where we stand so in a few months we can nod our heads and say "see, I told you so!" Well, that won't be me because I haven't the foggiest idea of what is going to happen and I wouldn't have it any other way.