Everything we've come to know and love about the Captain was on full display. His aggressive attacking of the basket. His patented elbow jumper. His spin-splitting-the-double-team move. His rebounding and getting to the line. And even the spontaneous emotional celebration (this time in hilarious fashion with the Tebow on the Hawks center court circle). It was all there to soak in and enjoy.
Then it was Kevin Garnett.
Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. might have made a tactical error yesterday when he let slip that he believed the Celtics' Kevin Garnett was, as he so eloquently put it, "the dirtiest guy in the league." Because apparently word got back to KG, and he responded in the Celtics' Game 6 showdown with those Hawks tonight.
Meanwhile, the rest of the East was falling apart and the Celtics were looking like a real threat for the title.
Across the Eastern Conference, the big stars are tumbling out of Miami’s way. Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose are out of these playoffs, the two best players at the two positions – center and point guard – the Heat have shown to be most vulnerable. They’re gone, but Wade never tackled them in a playoff game the way he did Rondo a season ago. The East is clearing out for the Heat, but Rondo, the slightest star in stature, still cuts the most threatening figure.
And Avery Bradley was still making a name for himself.
Perhaps the most impressive portion of Bradley's emergence defensively has been his ability to get himself into great position to make the proper plays. There have been a few occasions when he has been beaten off of a screen, but he has shown a phenomenal job of being able to recover well enough to alter the shot or even block it. In fact, he's amassed 16 blocks this season, and every single one of them have raised eyebrows.
But it wasn't like all was well. In fact, there was plenty of cause for concern.
Well, Pierce has a "strained MCL" and has been productive most days but sometimes looks a step short without a lot of lift. Ray Allen's bone spurred ankles continue to bother him - I think at this point it is just a matter of playing through pain when he can. He clearly wasn't 100% as evidenced by his woeful free throw shooting. Kevin Garnett has had hip flexor issues off and on all year and who knows what else that he's not telling us about. Oh, and Avery Bradley has a bruised rotator cuff, whatever that is and Greg Stiemsma has plantar fasciitis. But other than that, everyone is healthy as a peach. I guess.
You know, I don’t think we have a big margin of error," said the coach. "We knew that coming into this whole playoff run with the bodies we have. We’ve got guys going in and out of games. Paul (Pierce) clearly is not 100 percent. We’re not going to run away from anybody."
The Sixers pushed the Celtics to a 7th game and had us worried that the run was going to be for naught.
But what if they don't? What if they end up losing to the 8th seed in the 2nd round of the playoffs. What makes this team's fate any better than the Lakers inglorious exit? You almost have to revisit the decision to not break up the team at the trade deadline. Was a half a season and a first round win really worth it?
But they prevailed, in part because Ray Allen found his jumper at exactly the right time.
It is almost fitting that Ray Allen once played a character named Jesus, because his jumper was dead and buried last night. Yet it miraculously came back to life at exactly the right time to save his teammates. Please forgive the borderline sacrilegious analogy, I'm still feeling a little giddy.
They advanced to play the hated Miami Heat. Game 1 didn't go so well.
The Celtics, much like their fans, are seething mad over the first game blowout loss. Aside from a good 2nd quarter, everything went the Heat's way last night and by the end of the game Miami was just toying with them. At one point, LeBron James literally laughed in the face of a growling Kevin Garnett. That's not going to sit well.
Game 2 went better but had the same end result.
Amazing, remarkable, inspiring performance by Rajon Rondo who finished with a career high 44 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds. Might have been his best game ever. Good solid games by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Super-clutch 3 pointer to force overtime by Ray Allen. And the Heat STILL won the game.
On to June!