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The Great "Who Woulda Thunk It?" Victory

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Sometimes, it's the little things that make you smile.  Sometimes, it's the little things that make you win.

As far as yesterday's thrilling Game 7 win for the Celtics over Cleveland was concerned, both of the above were most certainly the case.  There was a lot more than simply a mammoth performance by Paul Pierce that helped bring the win home (although I wouldn't be too quick to discount that either), and there were no doubt a fair share of rueful grins exchanged by us green faithful.

Perhaps more than any other single feeling, yesterday's win resonates as a win full of surprises.  Not that it was so inconceivable that the Celtics could win the game itself (it wasn't), but that the set of factors that contributed to this victory certainly wasn't what we expected it to be -- not at the start of the season, not at the start of the playoffs, at the onset of this series or even the beginning of the classic that was Game 7 itself.

So perhaps a morning of tribute to some beautiful -- and some just plain baffling -- surprises is in order.

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To P.J. Brown, for submitting a "little things" game for all time.  He played just 20 minutes but went for 10 points (4-for-4 shooting) and 6 boards (3 offensive) in that time.  This included one of the biggest buckets of the season -- the 21-footer to extend the Celtics' lead to three in the final 90 seconds.  It was Brown who was there to defend LeBron around the basket and force a miss with the Celts still leading by three in the final 30 seconds.  And it was Brown who used four of the five fouls he committed extremely effectively, being sure to wrap up his victims and force them to earn their points at the foul line.  Played hard, provided veteran leadership and had a few huge baskets.  What a game for any reserve but especially a guy who didn't play prior to the All-Star break as well as one who had previously looked quite rusty through most of his Beantown tenure to date.

To Eddie House, for always being prepared to make the most of his opportunities.  What a pleasure it was to see this guy getting the attention for the halftime interview with the Celtics leading by ten at intermission of Game 7 against LeBron and his Cavs!  And to think that he did it without doing much of his trademark sharp-shooting -- House was just 1-of-5 from the field.  But he will always be remembered for the energy and poise he provided, most notably with regard to rolling on the floor to nab a loose ball and feeding James Posey on a play that led to two made fouls shots for Posey.  

So let's get this sequence of events straight: Rondo and House play well all season.  Concerns arise that House isn't enough of a true point guard to have as the only back-up on the roster in case Rondo falters.  Celtics sign veteran point guard Sam Cassell.  House's minutes completely evaporate come playoff time.  Meanwhile, Cassell seems to shoot the rock every time he touches it.  Rondo has some struggles in the biggest game of the season.  Cassell goes ice cold.  House comes off the bench instead of Cassell in Game 7 because he has played like more of a point guard and with a better semblance of control.  House plays an integral role in winning that game.  The bliss of shock strikes again.

To Doc Rivers, for having the stones to mess with his rotation late in the series.  Successfully to boot -- at least when all was said and done.

To this beloved yet befuddling newfangled big three.  This was the group of three 20-point scorers, the clan that was simply going to pile up the points.  Instead, two of those three combined for 17 points, just one more than the 16 scored by the tandem of less accomplished starters, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo.  That one of those three would sit out roughly ten minutes of the fourth quarter of a close Game 7 was once unfathomable.  That this would become a reasonable proposition by game-time was even more unfathomable.

To the man of the hour himself, the captain aaaaaaaaaand The Truth, Paul Pierce.  This was supposed to be the guy who was free to change, the guy who didn't need to do it all any more, the guy who had help.  But when his team needed him most, PP turned in a Retro Paul performance of purely epic proportions.

Finally, to this Boston Celtics team of ours, for suddenly being four wins away from a berth in the NBA Finals.  Given where this team was a year ago, this may well be the biggest surprise of all.