1. This version of the Takeaways is going to just be one big one. Quite frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot to take away from the game at the Wizards. Boston was sloppy and slow for most of the night. They had 17 turnovers and shot only 34.7% from the field. That included missing a whopping 29 three-point shots. Many of those were open looks. And this was against the worst defense in the NBA. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they missed Kemba Walker. At any rate, it was an unexpected loss.
But the other reason I’m not writing a long set of Takeaways with the normal film clips, observations and breakdowns is because I don’t really have the energy. One of the first things I learned as a writer was: Keep yourself out of your stories, unless it’s really about you. Don’t use “I…”. The reader knows who is writing the article. Tell the story without making it about you.
If you’ll permit me, I’m going to break those rules and make this one a little bit about me. If you want to stop reading now and pick back up on Thursday after the game against the Spurs, I won’t mind in the slightest. See ya Thursday!
If you’re still here, you might be wondering where this is going. If you follow me on Twitter, you know it’s been a challenging month for my family and I. I won’t get into all of it here, but the main thing that has me sapped of energy is that we had to put one of our beloved Golden Retrievers, Bernie, to sleep Monday morning.
Our good boy Bernie crossed the Rainbow Bridge today. He went peacefully at home with all of us loving on him right until he was gone. Our hearts are broken, but grateful for the 10 plus years we had with him. RIP Little Guy. pic.twitter.com/ixPcTnYyYy— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 6, 2020
He fought a good long fight against cancer and it was time to let him have peace.
Losing a pet is always emotional and it was no different for my family. Longtime readers will remember that we have a young daughter at home who was devastated when Boston traded away her favorite player Isaiah Thomas. Well, she’s 9 ½ now (she’d tell you that the ½ is VERY important) and our dogs are both just over 10. They are almost exactly 6 months to the day apart. That means that she’s never known life without her brothers. My wife and I are heartbroken of course, but we are absolutely crushed for her to have to go through this for the first time.
How does this tie to the Celtics? Well, a couple of ways. As in any family where someone has a bit of a different type of job, schedules get a little weird. On game nights, I like to do what I call “covering from the couch”. Boston’s game is on the TV, the tablet (sometimes two) has another game, and I usually have yet another game on my laptop. The main focus is always on the Celtics game, but I let Twitter sort of guide me to other games where and when I should check in.
Because I’m on the East Coast (Orlando) our daughter’s bedtime often falls right in the middle of the early games, including Celtics games. So, on an almost nightly basis, there’s a built-in pause to say goodnight and get her off to bed.
Now, if you’re a parent, you know bedtime can be quite the event. For us, it means her dragging things out as long as possible before my wife or I eventually says “Enough. Go to bed!” In our house it also involves this order of events: Kiss mom, kiss dad, kiss her brothers goodnight.
A little inside baseball here, but during Celtics games, to aid me in the Takeaways, I have a document open that I just jot notes on throughout the game. Sometimes it’s a specific play I want to find easily later. Sometimes I observe a trend. Other times it’s a rotation thing or a something a specific player is or isn’t doing. Every writer has their own system and this is mine.
Last night, that whole system was thrown out of whack. I only had the Celtics game on, with occasional peeks elsewhere. And, to be honest, I wasn’t overly focused on the Boston game, but I had a page of full of notes from the first half and was settling in for the second half to start. Right around the start of the second half, it was bedtime.
Our whole world came crashing down. Again.
Our sweet boy passed in the morning and we spent the rest of the day doing what we had to do and distracting ourselves in between crying fits. By the time the Celtics game tipped, our daughter was off working on a LEGO set and I was welcoming the distraction of normalcy of covering a game. Then it was bedtime.
She drags it out. We do the whole “Go to bed!” routine, but our hearts aren’t overly in it this time. Then, kiss mom, kiss dad, kiss her…well, yeah.
At that point, I lost most of my focus for a long period. I continued to take notes and tweet about the game, but my ability to care was long since gone.
It was then that I knew this wasn’t going to be a regular version of the Takeaways. As for the Celtics, as you know, they never really got it going. The second half was pretty similar to the first. It just wasn’t Boston’s night, and for only the second time this season, they lost a game to a team that is currently outside of the playoff picture.
I finish each game with a tweet that states the final score and some key stats. The responses last night brought back versions of:
“This team isn’t a real contender. Real contenders don’t lose games like that to bad teams.”
“Worst loss ever. This team is disappointing”
And so on and so forth.
You know what I realized? It’s one game. One ultimately meaningless regular season basketball game. I’m not here to tell you how to watch sports and where to invest your emotions. That’s an intensely personal thing. I just want you know that for me, my care factor was at an all-time low.
The Wizards recently beat both the Nuggets and Heat. The Bucks just got blown out by the Spurs. The Lakers recently had a four-game losing streak. Every team goes through a rough patch. Boston is in one right now. They played poorly against the Hawks and Bulls too, but managed to win. That luck ran out at Washington. But it’s not the end of the world. It was one loss. It happens.
Back to my nightly routine…Once our daughter goes to bed, my wife will often watch the end of whatever game I’m watching with me before heading to bed. She’ll watch the Celtics or a big game if they’re close and interesting, or she’ll head off to watch something else. She only has so much patience for basketball, unlike football and baseball, which she loves. Then, she usually heads off to bed, taking the boys with her.
After the disaster of our daughter’s bedtime, neither one of us was much for our regular routine. She stayed up later than usual, delaying her own bedtime. I watched the rest of the Boston game, closed my laptop and looked at her with tears welling up in my eyes and said “I guess we go to bed?” We let Matty out to do his business, fed him a small snack (so he won’t wake us up too early in the morning for breakfast!) and went to bed.
Eventually we both drifted off to sleep. No idea who was first, but I know we both heard the sniffles and sobs of the other as the tears just kept coming. You see, in the silence of bedtime, with no other distractions, your mind goes where it wants. Ours went to our sweet boy Bernie and how we loved him as much as we could, for as long as we could, and in the end we loved him enough to do what was right. No matter how much that broke our hearts. We didn’t need to talk, but I know what we were both thinking as the tears landed on our pillowcases. And not a single one of those tears was because the Celtics lost to the Wizards.
(Back to normal on Thursday after the Spurs game. I promise. Thanks for giving me the time and space to grieve.)