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Countdown to Friday.

March 18, 2009

I am looking for a new attitude. I am looking for a new perspective. I am looking for a new level of energy.

With only 15 games left in the season, I am not that concerned about our final regular season record. What I am concerned about, however, is how quickly this team can turn back into the aggressive team that can dictate the flow of the game like we’ve seen so much this season.

That day might start on Friday when Big Baby and KG make their return in San Antonio. Friday will not be the immediate elixir that all Celts fans are looking for, but it will be a start. I like the idea of thinking about Friday as a new start for the last 1/5 of the season. With only 15 games remaining, it seems unlikely that the Celts will finish first in the East. With the way the injury report doesn’t seem to be getting any better for the Celts and the way the Magic have incorporated Rafer Alston to their lineup, there is a chance the Celts could finish third in the East. I don’t really think they’ll finish third, but even if they do, then whatever.

That is what I say. Whatever to wherever these guys finish. I mean, they’ll finish second, but whatever…

I have to work under the assumption that everyone is wrong about Friday being the magical fix and we won’t instantly win the last 13 games of the season when KG returns. How much has he been practicing and working out with the team? Not much… and by not much I mean as far as we know not even once. All we heard from the media was that he jogged a few times and Doc made him go home after a few hours at the workout facility. He won’t get to practice with the team before Friday because we have back to back games (Chicago and then Miami) and the team is traveling on Thursday.

But we have to look forward to Friday; not in the sense of we everything will be great on Friday, but something will be there. We have to look forward to a new start: 2009 Celtics version two-point-zero.

We can look forward to having our best low post player back. We can look forward to having our best big-man shooter back– 17 footers will be dropping like enemies of Jack Bauer. We can look forward to having one of our team’s best passers back to give wide open looks when teams double up on KG. We can look forward to having Rondo’s complete game back with KG’s pick-n-rolls, spreading out of the court, and alley-oops. We can look forward to having back our floor general, our defensive commander– our defense is just not the same without him. We’re a step behind on every single play that requires a switch. Most of all, we need the emotion back. We need the intensity back. We need a sense of urgency to light a spark beneath the Celts. We need someone to take responsibility. We need KG back.

Everyone knows that the Celts can win games without KG in the lineup. With Rondo, Ray, Pierce, Powe/BBDavis, Perk as our starting lineup, we are still a very good team. Arguably, this lineup is still better than almost every other team in the league with the exception of the Lakers and the Cavs, and still competitive with the Magic and the Spurs. Last year KG missed a few weeks because of a strained abdominal. We were able to win games last year, and we have been able to win games this year. But right now, more than in the past, we are really seeing the difference of having and not having KG in our lineup. We are good team without KG, but we are a great team with KG.

There is a big difference. Ever read “Good To Great” by Jim Collins? You should. Outshining others requires innovation, but most of all, discipline– disciplined ideas from disciplined people. KG is our team’s discipline. We need our discipline back. We need KG. KG is our binky. We need our binky back.

This stretch is different. I am sick of the comparisons to last year: we aren’t the same team and this is not the same season. Everyone needs to give it a rest. Are we the clear cut favorites to win this year? No. Are we even the best team in the East? Not right now. Would finishing a second seed and having to play Detroit in the first round, Orlando in the semis, and the Cavs in the ECF be a difficult road? Of course. The playoffs are tough. Seeds go out the window, and every team comes into the playoffs hungry.
If we’ve learned anything from last year, it’s that anything is possible.

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