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It’s time to realign our 2010 Celtics expectations

March 2, 2010

If you were to take a walk down Celtics Avenue in the neighborhood of the Celtics blogosphere, it wouldn’t take a genius to come to the realization that every resident there is pissed. Neighbors aren’t mad at each other, per se, but just in a sour mood about what’s happening around them.

Disappointed. Frustrated. Confused. Angry. Offended, even?

It’s pretty easy to see why: aside from dropping a silly game to the Nets, the Celtics have been anything but consistent since, well, October. Since the new year dawned upon us, things have been even worse. Injuries, rumors, trades, inconsistent play, flat effort, lack of energy, and no gritty fights during feasible comebacks have had plenty of people questioning the integrity, leadership, and capabilities of this team… The same team that was easily a pick as a title contender in the off-season, pre-season, and the beginning of the season.

Let’s just face it: we are a long way away from the 23-5 after beating the Magicians on Christmas Day. Since then, we have been 13-16, for a grand total of 36 wins and 2 1 losses.

Not encouraging. Not even in the slightest.

At some point in the last 8 weeks of treacherous/sub-par basketball, I’ve slowly been waking up. The alarm wasn’t sudden, and the bell has been subtle. It’s time to realign our 2010 Celtics expectations: we aren’t a top 3 team, not even a top 5 team, but we are a top 10 team.

If you missed Hollinger’s recent Power Rankings, here is a quick breakdown from 1-15:

I’m not always on the same page as our friend John, but in this case he’s right. Unfortunately, he’s right. We just aren’t a top 5 team, and that’s difficult for many of you (including me) to get over. Our record against top 10 teams in the league have been atrocious. We have given up the most second half double-digit leads in the association this season. We have been 3 games under .500 in the last 2 months. Nothing in this paragraph should make anyone excited about the playoffs.

But, therein lies the key: this team can’t be overlooked at as a legitimate, viable contender for the title. Critics, writers, players, coaches, and most importantly non-Celtics fans, have already moved on. Anyone who is anyone that follows basketball realizes that the Celtics have a lot of wrinkles that need ironing out, yet the iron itself isn’t even plugged in. Only the stubborn fans remain cemented in a block of naiveté.

Many Celtics fans are standing strong, steadfast, and staying put. It’s good for us to stand still: as fans, that is our job, obligation, and duty. It’s an easy job, really: just root for your team. Although it can be difficult because we want to feel so close to the Celtics and feel we all have the answers to fix this team, we are the furthest away from the players. Nothing we say or do determines the outcome of a game, how hard a player plays, how often his shots is falling, or the flow of team chemistry. What we can do, however, is turn up the dial of common sense and realize what’s going on here: the Cavs, Lakers, Nuggets, Mavs, Magic, Hawks, Jazz, and Suns are better than us. I don’t necessarily agree that the Thunder and Spurs are better than us, especially in a series. I don’t even know if I agree with the fact that the Suns are better than us in a series, but the other teams are clearly LIGHT YEARS ahead of the Celtics.

At the moment.

What if this is the story of this team? What if this team really is built for the playoffs? That the vets are putting it in cruise control to coast to the playoffs?

The comforting reality of this entire scenario is that the Celtics will make the playoffs. Something incredibly disastrous would have to happen in order for the C’s to not make the playoffs. They’ll make the playoffs. The Celtics is also a team that has better odds against their opponent in a series. Why? The odds are better, the vets have experience, they really do have a talented starting 5 and a fairly deep bench, and their coach is a pretty good coach…

Or, this season could just turn into a bust. This is just as likely to happen as the optimistic side of me that thinks this team has 2 more deadly gears in them that they’ve shown flashes of so far this season. Or, maybe not.

Either way, I am realigning my expectations of this year’s team. The Celtics are a top 10 team, but not top 5, 3, and definitely not top 2. The team often exemplifies the persona of a young team (giving up big leads, not playing to potential, an inability to execute through and through, lots of fouls and technicals), which is eerily ironic considering how old they are as a whole. Weird.

I’m looking for the Celtics to win the first round of the playoffs. Before you write me off as Captain Obvious, hear this one last argument out: if you’re a top 10 team in the league, you should win the first round for sure, and then it’s 50/50 in the conference semis. I am not talking 50/50 you might win or lose (duh), I’m talking about what are the REAL odds if you making it to the conference finals. If the Celtics can get past the first round, I think they still stand a good chance to see the Cavs in the ECF. The fire can come back. They can will themselves that far. But much further? I just don’t think so.

They’re not a top 2 team. They’re not a top 3 team. They’re not a top 5 team. They’re barely a top 10 team. Top 10 teams just don’t win titles. It’s time to realign my expectations of this year’s team. I am done looking over my right shoulder to compare how the Lakers, Cavs, Nuggets, Magic, Hawks, and Jazz are playing. It’s not worth it. But this doesn’t mean I am giving up on them, or will stop cheering. If anything, I’ll cheer even more because I love the underdog. I love underdog stories. It’s an easy job as a fan: just root for your team. So that’s what I will do until they exit the playoffs, whenever and wherever that may be.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. sanabeans permalink
    March 2, 2010 1:02 am

    im still rooting too!

  2. March 2, 2010 1:21 am

    ‘Til the mo***r*u***n* wheels fall off.

  3. Joel permalink
    March 2, 2010 7:09 pm

    Next year this team will be judged solely on how it performs in the post-season, so all this in-season conjecturing and head-scratching doesn’t really amount to piss on snow (as we used to say in VT; Maine too I suspect).

    • March 2, 2010 10:01 pm

      It doesn’t, but when you have lost more games than you’ve won in 8 weeks, that’s never a good sign.
      This team just isn’t that good. They obviously have a shot to win the title, just like OKC and MEM and CHAR have a shot at winning the title. We just can’t speak of them in the category as the other teams.

      I’ll stick by my pre-season predictions: Celtics win over LAL in 6 (or did I say 7?).

  4. March 14, 2010 5:10 pm

    Alas the age is catching up, and as a Lakers fan I am sad. There is nothing I want more than to meet the C’s in the finals again, and show up on the Defensive end this time.
    As an outsider I feel like the C’s have thrown a couple hail mary passes the past two years.
    Marbury and now Finley. The problem with the C’s is they keep getting older and older tallent. Shed is lazy and refuses to play the post. If he did how legit would their inside outside game be. KG, it hurts me to see him play without that bounce. Big Baby, well his name says it all.
    At the time of the trade to get Ray Allan and KG, do you think the C’s were seteling for one maybe two Championships? I do.
    I think the things that have hurt you the most this past two years is losing PoZ, Leon, and now the most recent Eddie House. Those guys killed the Lakers in the finals two years ago. PoZ was an unreal role player. Leon was great young tallent (always been a fan of his, played against him in highschool) and House, just scared me from the outside.
    I hope this post is right and the C’s are just holding out till the playoffs, it seems the Lakers in a way are doing this as well. Nothing I would like more than to see LeBron suffer another let down in the post season and have a Boston Lakers finals.—-your west coast affiliate Kaliphornya……

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