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SamPosium Looms Large In Game One Win

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I'm no philosophy scholar.  That sort of thing made my head spin in school.  Basketball always seemed quite a bit more understandable.

That said, at some point in my scholastic career, I was directed to peruse the contents of Plato's Symposium, allegedly one of the greatest philosophical works of all time.   While the experience didn't 'fulfill' me quite as much as it was supposed to (the fact that I passed out three times while reading it and ultimately opted for SparkNotes could have played a role here), I'm happy to say that the great thinker's work has now served it's first practical purpose of note for me: creating the basis for a painfully cutesy nickname for the two guys who Dick Stockton attempted to meld into one last night -- the same two reserves who were instrumental in the Celtics' series-opening victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was another painful night for me with Stockton on the mic, but with basketball the focus, there is no need to pick at the announcing crew this morning.  Granted, at the time it happened, which was some point in the midst of the second quarter, I really could have done without Stockton deciding to refer to one Celtic as "Sam Posey."  But little did I know just how much sense that would later make.

There is no question that Kevin Garnett was absolutely huge last night for the Celts.  The man played all night like the superstar and franchise savior he is, especially with the game hanging in the balance.

But not to be overlooked are the contributions of one indvidual who has been solid all year and one individual who has driven so many up a wall in such a short time -- but who finally did exactly what he was brought in to do.  I -- actually, it was really Doc Rivers who was a lot more responsible than I -- give you the SamPosium.

(More after the jump) 

We're officially at the point at which I could write about James Posey after just about every game, particularly the victories.

His numbers in the box score mean absolutely nothing to me.

It's just the whole package that this guy brings to the table that impresses virtually each and every time out.  It isn't just that he hit two threes, it's the timing of those threes -- one at the first-quarter buzzer to extend an early lead to double-digits and one early in the fourth to extend a tenuous lead from one to four.  It isn't all that impressive that the guy pulled down two boards in 25 minutes, but it's worth remembering that he was there to grab one of (if not the) biggest of the game, the one that allowed the Celtics a chance to gain a two-possession lead with two free throws with 8.5 seconds on the clock.

It's the calm in this guy's eyes when he pulls down that rebound and doesn't seem at all bothered by getting fouled immediately after and knowing that the pressure rides on him to sink those two free throws in order to help the Celts get ready to close up shop.  That would be the look that says he is completely unperturbed and that there is nowhere else the man would rather be than making the Garden go crazy with the two swishes that all but clinched it.

It's that both-ends-of-the-floor hustle that defines this guy.  When the term "50-50 ball" is mentioned around this team, this is the man that comes to mind.  The guy who won't back down from anyone, who will dive into and jump over anybody he has to in order to get his team the ball.  The guy who gives eternal hugs to each starter before the game and then provides the mean streak this team needs the second he hits the floor.

It was all huge last night.  The two threes were important.  The hustle manifested itself more than anywhere else in his excellent defense against LeBron James, whom he single-covered for most of time on the floor last night (hat tip to Paul Pierce in this department as well).  He used his long wing-span all night while still doing a great job utilizing his deceptive quickness to play defense with his feet as much as possible.  The poise showed on the two end-of-game free throws is exactly the sort of thing this team was so sorely missing down the stretch for three games in Atlanta last round.

It sure seems like James Posey comes to play every night, and last night was no exception.  Another great effort that paid big dividends.

But we would be remiss to omit from this discussion the contributions of the Alien.  The guy who has likely made each member of the shamrock faithful crazy at least once already in his Beantown tenure.  Even those of us who have been the staunchest supporters of the "He was brought in for a reason, have faith, he's going to be huge at least once when it matters" theory have had our moments already where we wondered if the man who took the lovable Eddie House's rotation spot could be bothered to throw a pass or guard someone.

Last night, Sam Cassell reminded us to keep that faith.  Because he did exactly what he came here to do.

Yes, as Jeff mentioned in the post-game brief, Sam is going to shoot the ball when he is on the floor.  A lot.  When it doesn't go in, we're going to get antsy watching his act.  But the man is a professional shooter, and he is also professionally clutch.  This is a guy who has made a living off of having ice in his veins, acting like a general cagey veteran and hitting huge shots.  He's going to have his nights where he frustrates everyone affiliated with the green, and on those nights, he is going to be off the floor quickly.

But he's also going to have nights like last night.  The type of night when he posts up a youngster like Daniel Gibson and manages to work his way to the foul line by smacking the defender with his off-hand several times out of the official's view until he provokes a reaction that the referee does notice.  Or more importantly, the type of night when he scores 10 fourth-quarter points on 3-for-5 shooting, grabs a huge rebound and draws an equally huge foul in the game's final minute.

Posey is cool under pressure.  Sam Cassell is hot -- in the best way possible.  He loves it.  Just eats this stuff up.  Goes to the line with 55 seconds left in a tie game in the playoffs, screams at everyone and anyone around him before having a personal conversation with himself aloud.  And then hits two free throws like it's nothing.  More than anybody on this team besides Ray Allen, this is the guy I want shooting two free throws with the game on the line.  If there were ever a time for a cliche, it is right here: Sam Cassell lives for this stuff.

And in a bruising yet exciting Game 1 victory, the efforts of SamIAm and Posey -- the SamPosium, if you will -- were nothing short of crucial to Celtic survival.