2010 NBA Playoffs: Celtics Playoff Run Stabilizing the City of Boston
In the past decade, Boston sports have accumulated six World Championships, through all three major sports.
Although most would never admit it, the typical Boston sports fan would likely be described as spoiled.
The devotion to the local nine drives this powerful sports city, which also enjoys the newfound fruition of a successful football franchise. The TD Garden regularly sells out, something which has been absent from the checklist since Larry Bird and Bobby Orr called it home.
On the surface, all signs continue to point to paradise. Up until this past weekend, NESN routinely exercised the NESNPLUS outlet. Both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins hogged airwaves. While results have soured as the calendar plugs towards summer, both teams have enthralled viewers albeit sometimes for all the wrong reasons.
And then there were the Celtics.
The Boston Celtics baffled fans, experts, even themselves, coming down the stretch of the regular season in March and April. Inconsistency on both sides of the ball plagued the oft-injured squad. Showered with boo’s raining downing from the rafters on multiple nights, the Boston Celtics left little hope of seriously contending in the 2010 Playoffs.
It seems as if Doc Rivers and Co. were collectively chucking the bird at common logic.
The Celtics are peaking, or perhaps, resurrecting, at just the right time. Stifling defense coupled with the dazzling play of Rajon Rondo has created a very similar image to the team which hoisted banner 17 in 2008. The offense is yet again playing their game, on their terms. Every fault exposed throughout the beginning of spring has been reversed and corrected, creating a well oiled machine.
The questions about checking ego’s at the door come playoff time have been answered. Rasheed Wallace’s suspect play, well that is a thing of the past(knock on wood). Injuries? What are those? The Celtics are not only playing well, but they are commanding.
Commanding the paint so far this post season. Commanding the pace of play. Commanding the Eastern Conference Finals 2-0. Most of all, commanding the top spot on the Boston sports totem pole.
And that’s just what the city needs.
As pointed out earlier, on the surface Boston seems to be in tip top shape. The Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots all made the playoffs in their most recent calendar season and the Red Sox still have roughly 3/4 of the season to play. But as you dig deeper and peel backlayer upon layer a feeling of uncertainty is overwhelming.
There is no secret that Patriot reign is nowhere near as dominant as the early 2000′s. An inconsistent 2010 season illustrated by uncharasteric flaws has many fans finding the word rebuilding crawling to the tip of their toungue. For the first time, Bill Belichick has been broken, he has been beaten, and most of all he has been bewildered.
The trademark 3-4 Patriots defense looked soft in 2009, a word that not even the most radical Patriot fan has used to describe the defense since the Belichick era. Grumbling from the locker room and aging offensive stars do nothing to quiet the critics in New England.
There is also no secret that the Red Sox have put together a less than stellar performance to start the season, and 2009 was not nearly enough to hold off the naysayers. The demise of David Ortiz chronicles not only the fall of a super star but also a fall from grace amongst the Red Sox heavens. For the first time since Dan Duquette roamed the front office, there is not a true super star who fans can connect with fans on almost every level.
The on-field performance is not anything to write home about either. Perhaps Theo Epstein was toying with us when he threw out the idea of run prevention. Lackluster pitching has prevented us from being able to put up enough runs to stay in ballgames, but the defense has not won any games so far. Jonathan Papelbon is not generating swings and misses on his fastball and Adrian Beltre just let another routine ground ball go through the wickets.
Oh, did you hear?
Yeah, Boston is now on the wrong side of history as well. Somehow between games three and games four, the NHL conducted the biggest hoax job to date, abducting every member of the Bruins roster and replacing them with imposters. All jokes aside, the mid-series role reversing act the Bruins pulled only reminded fans of what they were really working with. Yes, surprisingly, the team that we saw for the first 82 regular season games was still there in the Eastern semi-finals.
And then there were the Celtics.
Despite heavy turbulence above the Boston area, the Celtics have landed smoothly. Not only did the team arrive and take it’s spot amongst the NBA elite yet again, it did so while regaining it’s swagger. After a game two win in Orlando, Paul Pierce did not hold back when mentioning that the Celtics would take these two in Boston as well, citing the fans as the driving factor behind the team.
Tenacious defense yet again trademarks this playoff unit who have gone up against arguably the East’s three biggest stars in Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard. The Celtics, who have been documented as struggling at times with the team before i concept Doc Rivers has set in place, are now working as one on defense behind the barking of Kevin Garnett.
Perhaps the light bulb went on inside the locker room just as it has in the local media. With Ray Allen’s contact expiring and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett showing their age, this could realistically be the last opportunity Boston has at raising banner 18 for years to come. It was no secret that the ever so young nucleus was disassembled by General Manager Danny Ainge to win now. He got his championship in 2008, but a championship in 2010 would cement these moves as not only genius but also beneficiary to the franchise as well as the city.
There does not seem to be a major Boston sports team who will be a serious player for a championship in the near future. As much as I hope the Patriots revert back to previous form and the Red Sox suddenly emerge out of hibernation, it does not realistically look possible. Boston’s best shot may be the Boston Bruins, and coming off this 3-0 collapse that is far from comforting.
The time is now for the Boston Celtics. Another ring would not only satisfy the fans of Boston but put the fall of a sports city on hold. A 2010 championship would, if for nothing else, buy more time. This would keep excitement in Boston. It would make a potential devastating 2010 for the Boston Red Sox stomach-able. The city of Boston needs this more so than many would think.
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