After completely dominating during the regular season, the Boston Celtics have arrived at the proving ground.
It was a foregone conclusion that the combination of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen would propel the team into the playoffs, but this year was a meteoric rise.
So now it’s time to find out what we’ve all been waiting for. Are the Celtics really this good?
Did this team really ascend to championship status this fast?
The pundits are playing it safe and saying, “no – not enough playoff experience there”, but a quick examination of the facts prove these expert evaluations as little more than job security.
C’mon fellas, it’s an election year – take a stand and vote your conscience for goodness' sake!
The very true facts are stacked in the C’s favor. They carry home court advantage throughout the playoffs and the finals. Unless you’re the Dallas Mavericks, this continues to be a decided advantage in winning it all.
The entire team is healthy. Even the Three Amigos (sorry, this writer will never refer to them as the Big Three) are perfectly rested for the tip-off of Game One.
The Celtics are also free of any off-court distractions. Compared to the rest of the league, these guys are Boy Scouts.
Danny Ainge continued his recent string of front office sensibility and acquired the ideal free agents (Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown) to strengthen any postseason uncertainties.
Doc Rivers and his coaching staff have complete command and respect of the players and fans. The C’s are so prepared to bring it all home that the franchise had the foresight to update the old victory tradition of “light it up, Red” with “Gino time”.
I haven’t been able to consult an astrologist, but it would be safe to assume that the planets are aligning with the hoisting of the 17th championship banner to the hallowed rafters of the Boston Garden.
In fairness to all those that rank playoff experience as the litmus test behind forecasting a winner, you’re due a black and white, on-the-court, balance sheet as well. Fortunately, the Bleacher Report doesn’t pay a dime for my opinion – so now you’ll get the truth.
Let’s get Cassell right out of the way and shuffle him to the “steep as a tea bag” in experience column.
The thing to point out that most fans don’t know about Sam is that, alongside Jason Kidd, most likely to become a coach after he retires. He has a natural rapport with the guys and they trust him.
That deserves a little extra weight because he’ll be able to show off his rings, sans Celtic engravings, and help players understand what they’ll see and feel as the anxiety heightens along the way.
In terms of the other players and coaches, the Three Amigos have all played in the Conference Finals. Doc Rivers saw his tour of duty as a player too, and he understands what it takes.
It's been awhile, you say? No doubt, but as long as we’re keeping score, and I know the “Pistons have been there and done that” card is looming, just remember the Flip Saunders-to-Kevin Garnett connection.
Flip doesn’t deserve much more weight than Kevin, given what he inherited from Larry Brown. So although the C’s don’t have a lot of experience in the League Finals, not many other teams in the post season have it either.
Take out the obvious with the Pistons and Spurs and your left with King James and that spotty cast he has in Cleveland.
Another undeniable truth is that when you put the Pistons and Spurs under the microscope, the only thing you really have left to count on is the experience factor.
Both teams are wearing the effects of their experience with inconsistent play and tired bodies heading into another postseason run.
I’m not taking anything away from these great teams, but you can’t deny the toll it takes when you play a ton of games over an extended period of time.
These guys have been churning in championship form for a very long time, but it was obvious during the season that both teams are getting tired and frayed. We saw it all year long. That's why it’s so hard to repeat, remember?
So what’s left? I love this part, because it’s the perfect card to trump that Pistons “been there done that” card. Okay,let’s turn our cards over…now!
Oh, snap – you lose! See, I’ve got the “C’s superior defense” card, which is really happening, and you’ve just got the notion that experience will get the job done.
Ah yes, you folks in Detroit and San Antonio remember how effective superior defense is, correct? Remember what turned the untested journeyman Chauncey Billups from a potential champion into an actual one?
Remember how Tim Duncan turned from “Virgin Islands swimmer boy” into, “Timmah!”? Sure you do, it was all about superior defense.
What’s really happening this year, and what’s really going to continue to happen throughout the playoffs is that a superior defensive effort from the Boston Celtics will overwhelm every team they face in a seven-game series.
See that? Was that so hard to dissect?
Well, they say that denial is the first and most difficult step sand I’ll forgive all you "experiencers" for now. Just make sure you get a sponsor and keep working on coming to terms with life on life’s own terms.
To support your recovery, but in a later post, I’ll rip Stephen A. Smith a new one for completely abstaining from forecasting an Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals. Honestly, what up wit dat, Stephen?
For anyone who wants to know the other half of the superior defensive equation, beyond the Garnett/players stepping it up factor, do some follow up on the C’s new assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
He’s likely to become the head coaching target for the new fare of crappy teams in the NBA, and the real impetus on why it all came together this fast.
I'll need to hear from everyone on my perspective so I can bond with true hoops fans, and then I'll assist everyone else still requiring help dealing with reality.