As a Boston fan, I think I lost about 20 pounds worth of sweat during the first round series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics.
Celtics fans were supposed to lean back in their recliners, crack open a cold one, and enjoy four blowout wins against an inexperienced Hawks squad. We got our wish, initially, as game one and game two were decisive Celtic victories.
We were all singing Bon Jovi, "Whoa we're halfway there!"
Until the least expected outcome happened in game three—the Celtics lost. Not only did the Celtics lose, they got absolutely spanked by the Hawks.
Something about being on home court just flipped the switch in Josh Smith's head. It was like watching a slam dunk contest. Smith torched the Celtics for 27 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
Smith made NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett look like fool as he posterized him on more than a few occasions. That combined with Joe Johnson's being en fuego from beyond the three point line, the Celtics had no answers in game three.
Game four was no different as Smith was playing like a man possessed and Johnson was money.
I just sat up in my chair and put my hands in my head and thought that the Celtics are going to choke and I am never going to hear the end of it.
Who wins 66 games during the regular season and then goes out to the team with the worst record in the playoffs?
My mind was put to ease as the Celtics looked to be back in top form in game five and they smoked the Hawks, beating them 110-85. KG got sick of the posterizing and ripped the Hawks for 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
After a blowout victory like the Celtics just had, all you have to do is ride the wave and meet King James and the Cavs in round two, right? Wrong.
Celtics blow it in the fourth quarter and the upstart Hawks force a game seven on a brilliant all-around team performance by Atlanta.
This may sound corny but I do not care, the Celtics got shipped up to Boston to fans sitting on the edge of their seats.
Winning the game seven was not a victory, it was a must or every Boston Celtic fan ( ban-wagon or die-hard) would pull a Saint Peter and deny that they ever were associated with the Celtics, but hey we still have the Sox right?
Anyway, are minds were put to rest as the game was over before the halftime buzzer.
The first round of the NBA playoffs for the Celtics begs me to ask the question—was this a fluke or can the Celtics be beaten?
Well, they have the Cleveland Cavaliers in their way now and in my unbiased opinion the Celtics should sweep the series or lose one game maximum.
The Cavaliers have the King, but what else?
Delonte will be bogged down by a much improved Rajon Rondo, Way Back Wally will be defended by veteran Ray Allen, Ben Wallace is virtually a non-factor on the offensive side of the ball and Illgauskas is so streaky that there is no way that the Cavs can put faith in him against a physical defender like Kendrick Perkins.
The Celtics bench has been force to be reckoned with all season and the Cavaliers bench is lackluster to say the least.
What could bring the Celtics down is a, and I hate to say it, lack of heart.
They took the Hawks for granted and they almost were guilty of the biggest choke in the history of the NBA. The first round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs would have put on the Boston Wall of Shame right in between Bill Buckner and the 2008 Super Bowl.
I doubt they will make the same mistake twice, but in the first round of the playoffs they almost conceded one-quarter of their total losses all season!
There is no single person to blame, and I know everyone is quick to question Doc Rivers but these are grown men playing basketball and if they cannot find the motivation in the playoffs, no coach in the world can instill that.
Trust me, now that the Big Three had the sour taste of defeat in their mouths they will not want to taste it again.
The Celtics will bounce back against a shallow Cleveland Cavaliers team, smother LeBron the best that they can, and take the series in five games.
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