It was the start of the fourth quarter when I finally realized what I should have known all along: This Celtics team is not going to win the NBA championship.
I could complain about the officiating again, talk about the free-throw differential, and remind everyone that four of the six fouls against Paul Pierce ranged from questionable to ridiculous, but there’s a larger issue here.
If it were just the officiating, I wouldn’t be stressed.
I know the Celtics are going to win on Sunday. As Donny Marshall reminded us on the Celtics’ TV broadcast, most of the questionable calls going against the Celtics aren’t going to go against them Sunday at home.
It’s not the officiating. It’s not the Hawks. It’s not a bad match-up. It’s not the Hawks being better than we thought they were (though they are much, much better than we thought they were…especially Joe Johnson).
This Celtics team has some serious, serious issues that I’m not sure they can overcome.
The biggest issue, and maybe the only issue that matters, is Doc Rivers.
In a pivotal playoff game, against a team that you don’t want to see in a game seven, that you should be stomping, you need to come out in the fourth quarter and stomp them.
You need to take the momentum away immediately, grab a lead, and never look back.
Doc Rivers thinks it’s more important to get his starters some rest. Now, this is understandable in the regular season, but inexcusable in the playoffs.
You’re talking about a group of starters that might only have ONE game left. They needed to win this game. But he played Paul Pierce and four bench guys to start the fourth quarter, and the Hawks made him pay.
Once he got the starters back in, Pierce was in foul trouble, the Hawks had all the momentum, and the game was basically over.
Doc Rivers needs to be fired immediately if this Celtics team doesn’t make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. If it doesn’t get out of the first round, he should be banned from ever attending an NBA game again.
He is the Grady Little of NBA head coaches. I’m baffled by his lack of adjustments and insistence on using his bench.
Doc Rivers will never coach an NBA champion. The best thing the Celtics could do is allow Garnett to coach the team and let Doc think he’s still in charge.
But Doc Rivers isn't the only problem. I’ve never seen a team settle for more jump shots than the Celtics.
Paul Pierce is taking the ball to the hoop. Leon Powe is pounding inside. That’s it.
Garnett’s fading away way too much. Ray Allen is taking too many three-pointers, including the ridiculous three he took down two with close to ten seconds left in the game last night.
Rajon Rondo went from the best player on the floor to an indecisive offensive liability in game six, replaced down the stretch by Cassell and failing to get the ball into a shooter’s hands on the last possession.
This team is missing something. Not sure what, but something is missing.
When Pierce fouled out, you knew they weren’t winning that game.
The Celtics will probably win on Sunday, but it won’t change anything I just said in this article.
This Celtics team might not beat the Cavs, it probably won’t beat the Pistons, and it has no chance against the Spurs, Lakers, or Hornets.
I’m going to drink heavily and forget this column ever happened. Maybe I can convince myself Doc Rivers will have this thing all figured out by the time the next round starts.
Hopefully the Celtics will be involved…