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Mind Games

goodbad.jpg I had to laugh when I read the following quote in the Globe: (Gasper)

Guard Ray Allen, who rediscovered his shooting touch in Game 2, said the Celtics are approaching these road games as a blank slate. They don't see themselves as 0-6 on the road, dropping all three games in series against the Hawks and Cavaliers.

"That was the last two rounds," said Allen. "I don't think we look at it or think about it like it's a hang-up, like we can't come out and win a basketball game because we're not in a building full of green and white."

Right.  Sorry Ray, but I'm calling shenanigans on you.  Actually, I don't care if Ray or any of the Celtics want to tell themselves this to get their heads ready for game 3 tonight.  Use whatever motivation you like.  Make whatever mental adjustments and justifications you need to forget about the past and focus on a positive future.  Tell yourself you're good enough, smart enough, and doggonit , Celtics fans like you.

Just don't expect us to buy any of it.

We've heard KG, Doc and others say that this team "needs" to win on the road.  Sure, that's a mathematical truth at this point, but that doesn't make it any less urgent.  They know their road record.  The press wouldn't let them forget it if they tried.  It absolutely has become a mental thing at this point.

At first you could brush it off.  A coincidence.  An anomaly.  Just one of those odd things that happens in sports sometimes.  Not anymore.  The road record has gotten into the players' heads.  They think just a heart beat too long.  They trust their shooting stroke just a hair less.  They believe in themselves, but there's a shadow of doubt that creeps in and kills the buzz.  In a game where confidence and rhythm is everything, this is devastating.

But all that can change.  The wonderful (and sometimes maddening) thing about sports is that it is all about "what have you done for me lately?"  The media keeps trotting out the Celtics 31-10 record on the road this season, but nobody cares about that.  It is old news.  All we see is 0-6 on the road in the playoffs.  So on the flipside, if the Celtics win this next game, we can forget all about the 0-6 number.  All we'll have to look at is 2-1.

Steve Buckley (Herald) has this to say about the record:

It would be inaccurate to say the Celtics are facing a "must game" tonight. A better way to put it is that this is a "must visit" to Detroit. The math is pretty basic: If they win one of the next two games, the series comes back tied 2-2. They lose both, they come home facing elimination.

I'll give him that.  For all my bluster, if the Celtics lose tonight and win game 4, they'll still be in good shape.  With that said, I think they'll have a tough time winning game 4 if they lose game 3.  if they lose, it won't be just one loss and a game down in the series.  It will be 0-7 on the road and one more loss hanging from their shoulders.  On the other hand, if they win, they will seize momentum and shed that weight entirely.  With the monkey off their backs, they'll have the confidence to finish the job and take control of the series.

It has to start with a win.  It would be really nice if that win came tonight.  Maybe it isn't a "must" win.  But it sure is an "it would be a really, really good idea for everyone's mental health" win. 

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