I'm not going to sugar coat it. For me, last night, the regular season effectively ended. Would it be nice if we won the next 4 regular season games? Yeah, sure it would. I'll probably watch them. But I won't really care.
And its not the losing that did it for me last night. Its not the way they lost, or even Rajon Rondo's "private meeting" or comments after the game. Its not the point differential or even the potential playoff implications in getting blown out by Chicago so thoroughly.
No, what did it for me was the realization that last night's game, game number 78 out of 82, was the last regular season game I'd give a crap about in the 2010-2011 season.
Last night's game had all the storylines. There was the 'underdog' angle, where if they beat the Bulls, maybe they could turn that into a momentum winning streak to take the 1st seed overall. There was the 'statement' angle, where the Celtics could've really shown the Bulls just what was waiting for them in the conference finals. There was even the 'get it going for the playoffs' angle, where the Celtics could have beaten the 'best' team in the East, and shown that maybe there really is a 'switch'.
And that's not to say we can't pretend these games matter, but let's be honest, they don't. Not compared to the playoffs..and I think that's part of what's wrong here.
The Celtics' play last night must have been disconcerting to even the most die-hard of fans, but really if we wanted to look honestly at the Celtics' play since 'the trade', if we were fans of any other team we should have passed 'disconcerting' a long time ago and gotten to full on panic mode.
But we're not fans of another team, we're fans of the Celtics, and frankly, every Celtics fan, especially after last year, should temper the "wow they player terribly tonight, something is wrong" comments with a mantra of 'wait til the playoffs'.
Because the playoffs are like crack to us. We need them, they have all the promise of a good time, the answers we seek, the definitiveness we long for as fans. And I imagine that its not much different for the players.
Games in the playoffs matter. Imagine how refreshing that must be for a guy like Shaquille O'Neal. He's seen approximately 3.2 million regular season games play out. He's seen everything from blowout losses in February to record setting wins in March. He's been dunked on by Michael Jordan, and schooled by Hakeem. He's broken backboards and rapped his way right into our hearts. March doesn't have anything for Shaquille O'Neal. He doesn't give a crap about the St. Patrick's Day uniforms. He's here for the ride, the high..he's here for the Catalina Wine Mixer of basketball. He's here for the playoffs.
Sure, the regular season has its allure. There's the happy honeymoon to be found in a nice win streak in the first 20 games, where everyone has their swagger on and nobody is complaining about how when it rains their knees pop. And then there's the All-Star game, which allegedly is awesome. And then there is what Dr. Frank N Furter refers to only as the antici..........pation.
Every debate about the Perkins trade, settled in the playoffs. Every comment about how the Celtics can't hack it anymore, settled in the playoffs. The 'is Rajon Rondo like..good anymore?' quandary, settled in the playoffs.
What do two Wizards games have against that? Why should we be excited for the Cleveland game? They're having nerf gun wars instead of practicing! The Miami game? Who cares, we've seen the Celtics beat them 3 times already, the only games that would matter against Miami now would be in the second round of the playoffs!
The only truly important and as of yet unresolved storyline is whether or not the Celtics will have home court advantage if (when.) they face the Lakers in the Finals..but that bridge is still a ways off and I'll worry about that when the Celtics are in the actual Finals at this point.
So we got 4 games left. 4 more chances to wring our hands or toot our horns and pretend like they matter. But we know...we know what's going on. And so do the Celtics. The playoffs are coming, baby. It'll be party time soon enough.