Once upon a time, in a galaxy not so far away, a war was fought over whether the Celtics could win the championship.
That was last year, here.
The pessimists – and there were many of them – looked at the Cs' .500 performance to close out the year and said 'no way.' The optimists looked at their health and their occasional bursts of brilliance and said 'way.' Battles raged almost every day. Blood flowed in the street. Warnings were handed out like candy. (I know, I know.)
And we all know what happened in the end. When the chips were down, the fighting stopped and we marched together with our team into those final battles. And commiserated over those final two games. (Arrghh to that Game 6 forever!)
I consider those times now – to borrow a phrase from my Marvelous youth – the halcyon days of yore.
Now we are met once again by another tepid year's end. Again, the Celtics are playing solidly mediocre ball to close out the regular season. So are we fighting again? Why are the pessimists not jousting with the optimists like in the good ol' days?
Answer: There are no optimists this time. Well... let me correct that. Let's just say that there are no true optimists this year.
I think it's the way our team has sucked this time around. Yes, there are still some injuries from which they are recuperating (Shaq & JO). But everyone else is healthy. And yet they've often sucked. The team often seems lost. Our new guys are still finding their way. And it seems this time like they're not holding back, like they really believe it's important to perform well in these last few game. And yet they've often sucked.
Added to these considerations is the fact that the competition is MUCH fiercer this year compared to a year ago. Teams that practically didn't exist then are major contenders now.
So what is the optimistic case this year? The best we can do – the best I've seen – is this: They will throw a switch again. They will turn it on for the playoffs. And I believe that. There is no way that this team plays in the playoffs like they did vs. Chicago the other day. Like time travel and non-deficit spending, that cannot happen.
But this time, there is no one who can say with any confidence that that switch, once thrown, will take them all the way to the championship. Or the Finals. We just don't know. We hope, always. But all we can know for sure is that it's going to be a hell of a fight.
That, and.... anything's still possible.