Writers and bloggers everywhere have wondered which Celtics team will show up for each playoff game. Sounds reasonable, given the tremendous differences in effort and results from game to game. But those differences haven't been reasonable. They've been unimaginable.
The Celtics' performance in game 6 vs. Philly was SO bad, so lackadaisical, that the truth became obvious for a change. They weren't trying to win.
But, you say, teams can play badly from time to time. It happens, right? Yes, that's true. But not THIS badly, and most especially not when there's a playoff series to close.
If game 6 was "just another bad game," why was Rondo the last to cross the midcourt line on virtually EVERY POSSESSION OF THE GAME? Why did he so rarely attack? Why did KG miss so many of the gimmes he almost always makes... and not by centimeters, but often way, way off (in the earlier quarters)? Where was the interior defense which we KNOW FOR A FACT this team can play, and play so well that Philly can't get a shot off in the paint? We've seen them do it, most especially in games 3 and 5. Suddenly in game 6 they're a sieve? Is this how a team plays when a playoff series is on the line?
Until somebody spills the beans, the facts are impossible to prove. But I believe what my eyes see. They saw Bill Kennedy lie his way through the first three quarters of game 4. And now they've seen the Celtics lay down in game 6.
I have 2 guesses as to why this happened. They are not mutually exclusive:
(1) With Avery Bradley gone for the season, the players know they can't get past the ECF anyway, and that a championship is essentially impossible... and they're so banged up, they just don't want to suffer anymore, so they're throwing in the towel. (Assume we don't know about every injury on the team.)
(2) There are big money interests at work. When Avery Bradley finally went down (which was inevitable, and a crying shame, because that kid is great... and will be again, after surgical repair) -- and with Ray also hobbling along just waiting to have his bone spurs repaired, on top of all the other injuries and illnesses the Cs have suffered this year -- the organization realized that there's no way to win the championship with the team so depleted, and they decided to just go for maximum $$$ instead. More games.
And so we got that travesty called "game 6." It was not a "game"... it was a performance. A show, for our benefit. And a bad one at that. But the media (including all the blogs) will all play along, they'll wring their hands a lot, and then there will be a game 7 which may or may not be for real.
My guess is the Cs will win game 7, and then lose in the ECF, as they expect to. But anything can happen. It's possible that the plan is a 2nd round exit for the Cs, because enough's enough. (And the more I think about it, the more this seems right.) We'll soon see. The Celtics are a much, MUCH better team than the Sixers. If they play game 7 like they did game 6, you'll know the fix was in. Again.
So there you have it. This season is basically over, and the Cs are just going through the motions, either to end their misery or to extract whatever they can from what's left. Or both. In any case, I'm sure they're looking forward to healing their broken bodies ASAP. (May they all heal well!)
And what about us fans? We get the shaft, of course. Surprised? You shouldn't be. There's less to the NBA than meets the eye.
Should we care? I think we fans need to accept all this for what it is: expensive entertainment.
My personal feeling: It’s a shame we couldn’t be healthy for one last glorious run. Because it WOULD have been glorious. But as it is.... it is what it is.