According to Dan Wetzel, this series is over and we are headed to the Finals for yet another rematch with the Lakers.
Yes, anything can still happen, so you won't hear a word from the actual Lakers about this series being over in the run-up to Game 3 Sunday in Phoenix. It's the same with the Celtics discussing the Magic.
Just about everyone else watching these conference finals has already started looking ahead, calling into talk-radio shows to discuss the possibilities, arguing whether Boston and L.A. will lose a single game combined and checking what the NBA will do if both series end in five games or less (start the Finals in L.A. on June 1).
Woah woah woah. Hold on a just a minute. The schedule still says we have to play at least two more games, right?
The Magic are still a very good team that was within striking distance in both games despite the Celtics basically controlling each game for three quarters each. What if the Celtics don't come out aggressive in the first quarter? It isn't like we haven't seen that this year. I know, I know, that was the regular season, but this is where I make the case for those "bad habits" that formed during the year.
The Celtics made an art out of turning off the switch this year and I worry about them feeling overconfident. Yes, the Magic have been punched in the face and they subsequently punched themselves in the face at the end of game 2. They are reeling and they might just sit down and take the easy way out. But don't bet on it.
Dwight had a pointed message for the Celtics when he said "Pride comes before the fall." If the Celtics start believing that the series is over, they might find it lasting longer than they would like. The games have been close and the Magic are a quality opponent. What if they knock down a couple of three pointers early and get that shooter's swagger going? If they hit their shots they can shoot over any defense. That's why you can't let up. You can't let them get any open looks. You have to keep executing the defense that won the first two games.
Sure, in these playoffs the Celtics have been a different team, and I'll never doubt them again on a macro scale. I just don't know if they can help but ease up a little in a game like this. Thankfully Doc is doing everything he can to remind them that the job isn't finished. This is from an interview on WEEI yesterday:
You gave your guys the day off yesterday and I'm sure before you parted company you had some words of advice for them. What was the advice you gave them?
Well, not yesterday, but the day before was humility. And we have done nothing, we've won two games. We just have to keep working and keep playing.
He also said:
"There's nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, but having said that, we still have a lot of work to do, guys," Rivers said. "Our goal was not to win two games in the series, our goal was to try to win the series."
Preach on Doc, preach on. One game at a time. One step at a time.
Bonus Link: I asked Doug Collins in a Q&A before the series what he would focus on in Doc's shoes. Here's his response.