Prognosticating the Celtics has turned into hardest job in the northeast this side of Mt. Washington meteorologists. After a Game 2 where the Philadelphia 76ers made the Celtics earn any monikers that people had given them coming into the season ("slow", "old", "sloppy", etc.), the Celtics absolutely trounced the 76ers in Game 3, with a 16-point win that required minimal effort after the first few minutes of the second quarter. Random fluctuations in the Celtics like this have been going on all season, and to be perfectly honest, the only thing we can really predict is that these vicissitudes will keep occurring until the end of the season. It's infuriating, exciting, difficult to watch, and I don't think I'd have it any other way.
Just look at how the Celtics started the season and ended it: 15-17 pre-All Star break, 24-10 after it. A first half that was marred by the obvious decadent nature of the franchise, and a second half where various personnel changes and improved play from older players allowed the Celtics to almost seem youthful. There are, of course, reasons for the change in success once its mapped out for you -- Garnett's switch to center, Bradley starting over Allen, Rondo not taking the trade rumors to heart -- but these are more arbitrary than anything. What happens if these things go horribly different? Garnett struggles at center and complains. Bradley struggles and loses confidence in his sudden chance in the spotlight. Rondo acts like a petulant child and plays poorly in protest. So many things could have gone wrong, and didn't. The Celtics just as easily could have missed the playoffs or have been an eighth seed, just as so many predicted when the All-Star break rolled around. No one saw a fourth seed and 12 games over .500 happening, not even Danny Ainge.
Everything that happens with the Celtics seems random and unplanned. Kevin Garnett was supposed to be on his career death bed, and instead has become one of the most valuable players in this year's playoffs. Paul Pierce scored 24 points on 11-14 shooting last night after struggling throughout the playoffs, and endured many people calling for his seat on the bench -- which wasn't out of line. He was playing pretty dreadfully. This randomness also goes down to the play calling as Jeff noted this morning, as Rondo pretty much just does what he wants because he can. Which can either be a good thing, as last night's victory indicated, or a bad thing, as Game 2's dreadful shooting night can attest to.
The unpredictability of this team as been an odd trend throughout the season, and if these playoffs are any indication, it's not letting up any time soon. There are nights where the Celtics look old and stale, and other nights where they look vibrant and shoot the lights out. I'm not sure if this is the blueprint for playoff success, and in fact, it's probably the exact opposite. But it's working so far, and it's hard to complain about that. No one can really no for sure just how the Celtics will play during any given game. That most likely comes down to age factor, as you can never really be certain as to when fatigue will set in. Oh well. I'm sure my heart will suffer because of this, but a couple of tiny heart attacks won't bother me too much. I doubt they'll bother the rest of the Celtic Nation as well.
Oh, and this keeps happening, which is probably the most random and beautiful thing of all. Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, and Ryan Hollins did this whenever the camera happened to pan over to the Celtics bench, and it panned over a lot. One can only assume they did this throughout the entire game.