They needed to try something different. Something like, say, a complete team effort rather than a batch of gaudy stat lines from the team's four All-Stars. A couple of stops here, a couple of loose balls there, and maybe a bench point or two, and the Celtics are a totally different team. That was the mindset going into Game 3 -- it had to be.
And they had me feeling very proud.
Win or lose, I'm very, very proud of this team. If it turns out that this is all we get, I will still look back on this year with a smile. We came so close in 2010 and that year was special in its own right as well.
Everyone started getting on the Boston bandwagon.
It's easy to root for the Celtics when they are going up against the NBA's version of Darth Vader, IRS auditors and fumbling dental surgeons. Pretty much everyone hates the Miami Heat outside of the 305 area code. In addition to playing the underdog role to perfection in the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics have emerged as something else, something they're not quite accustomed to being: the lovable overachiever.
And people started to openly question LeBron James again.
LeBron James had just lost a home Game 5, and he and his teammates are headed to Boston for an elimination game at the hands of the underdog and underappreciated Celtics. Just like two years ago, they don't seem the least bit surprised.
That probably wasn't very smart.
All you who said LeBron didn't have that championship mindset, that he didn't have it in him to lead, that he'd shrivel up and die in the face of the elimination-game pressure: LeBron heard you. All of you. He internalized your words, he bottled up all his anger, and he unleashed it for 48 minutes in one of the greatest performances Boston -- or any other city on the planet, for that matter -- had ever seen.
But that didn't stop the Boston faithful from believing.
"Let's go Cel-tics." The chant starts softly, coming from the balcony seats. "Did you hear our crowd the last three minutes of the game?" Doc Rivers asked after. "What other crowd in the NBA does that? It's a terrific place to play. The fans were unbelievable."
However, you know how this story ends. And I thought I knew how the larger story was ending.
That's it folks. That was the end of the Big 3 era. And the legacy of the era will be 1 Championship and 2 game 7's that killed 2 golden opportunities to make it more. Once in 2010 and then tonight. Still very, very, very proud of these guys. No regrets. Just a shame they couldn't have gotten more.
It was looking like it could be the start of a long hard chapter in Boston.
If KG hangs it up, he's just riding off into the sunset. I think if that happens, the dominoes begin to fall and Ray Allen picks a new home and Paul Pierce has a long, frank conversation with management that ends up with him suggesting strongly that he'd like to play for a contender like the Bulls or maybe even his hometown Clippers.
Instead, the decision of one man started at least one prologue that we are reading through now.
According to an NBA source and a source close to Garnett, the sides are working out the details of a deal that will be for at least two years and could possibly include a third.