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2010 Celtics: A Team To Be Proud Of

May 18, 2010
Rondo: the clear series MVP.

Rondo: the clear series MVP.

I can’t really sleep-in anymore. As a teacher, my body is used to being awake in the early hours and it doesn’t do a very good job of fighting the urge to just get up. Regardless of my best intentions after a long week, I do my best to convince my body that this will finally be the weekend; this will be the weekend that I sleep in past 6:00am and give myself the much needed rest that it wants and deserves.

Alas, I have lost that battle again this Sunday morning. People ask me if I am stressed or anxious, which might be a relatively simple way to explain why I can’t sleep in. But, I am not.

I think the answer is even simpler: my body works the way that it wants to work because that is how it has been trained to work. Get it?

A quote that is prominently printed and displayed in my classroom reads, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” A set of wise words strung together by Aristotle. This is what I entrusted in myself in college as an athlete (it was written in my track spikes) and it is what I entrust in myself now as a husband, teacher, and friend.

Unfortunately, I think that my body is excellent at not sleeping in. It is too good at operating under little sleep and dragging itself out of bed. Self-discipline? No way. Waking up early is just an unfortunate mindset that has developed from a habitual routine exercised far too often. I wish I could take credit for it, but my body just knows it’s what it has to do.

I will be honest: I have been carefully considering retiring from this blog after my short stint (only 2 seasons!) because in a way, I feel like I have been engrossed in the blog so much that I am watching games slightly differently: looking for storylines to write about instead of just enjoying the game for what it is. This is why I wasn’t writing much during the Cleveland series: I was just having too much fun with the series that attaching it to writing wasn’t so much difficult at the time, but almost unnecessary.

While in bed this morning, however, I couldn’t help but wonder about the conceived act of excellence versus the genuine habit of excellence and how that applied to the 2010 Boston Celtics. I compared Lebron and the rest of the Cavs starting lineup with the Celtics. First, notice how I had to say Lebron AND the Cavs, instead of just the Cavs. That is the first sign of issues: it is Lebron and everyone else… The problem was everyone else on the team, including its loyal fanbase back in Cleveland, bought into the show. Lebron’s new nickname should be, in fact, THE SHOW. The front office, the teammates, the fans, they all bought into the show: fun pre-game rituals, a distinct pallet for firing up his teammates at the Q with sensational plays (trailing blocks, thunderous dunks, 30 foot threes), and to fill up his nightly boxscores like it was a Christmas stalking. This was, in fact, Lebron’s attempt at excellence. But really, it was an act… both literally and metaphorically. The show was nothing more than a show: a demonstrative display without real depth or meaning. And most importantly, Lebron failed in attempting to understanding when and how to impose his skill and will to attain the desired result– winning series after series during the playoffs. It was all an act, and nothing more.

When push came to shove, Lebron quit on his team and his team quit too… Because that’s what happens when you buy into the show. Do you need more evidence than Lebron’s 9 turnovers and the final 70 seconds when nothing happened? No fouls, no desperation threes?

The Celtics, on the hand, couldn’t have made me prouder in this series. Ironically, the Celtics became a real championship caliber team in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavs in their 2008 banner year. On the brink of elimination (coming home for a game 7), the team fought together because they needed to win: it’s what they were used to doing.

I don’t think this is a coincidence in terms of this post-season. The Celtics played a rival that ultimately forced them to play their best team basketball in order to advance to the following round… Again. Let me reiterate this important point: in order for the team to not declare that they’ve “gone fishing,” the Celtics needed to play their best team ball all season and do it repeatedly. In other words, to make a habit of playing good basketball.

How many of us at the start of the season would think this statement would have been true in the playoffs: "Thank goodness we have Tony Allen for guys like D-Wade and Lebron!"??

How many of us at the start of the season would think this statement would have been true in the playoffs: "Thank goodness we have Tony Allen for guys like D-Wade and Lebron!"??

I am glad that this Celtic team is not getting any extended rest. They don’t really needed it. The only thing an extra 4 or 5 days will do is break their rhythm and disrupt the beautiful offensive and defensive flow that they developed in the Cleveland series. No one expects the Celtics to make it past the Magicians… And that’s what I like. I like them being the underdogs, because the pressure is then placed solely on themselves. This Celtics core is the same team that won a title 2 years ago: that cannot be overlooked. There is a reason Lebron and his cronies fell apart when faced with adversity and it’s the same reason that the Celtic TEAM rose to the occasion when it was most important: both teams have made it an habitual exercise. Fortunately for Celtics fans, our team’s habit is to win. The team is buying into playing defense and playing as a team. It’s as if the regular season truly was just an exercise in futility, but now we are seeing more to be proud of:

  • Rondo emerging yet again as a premier point guard in the league (Top 3? Easily) at the most important time: the playoffs
  • Tony Allen just winning the hearts of so many fans with his defense and hustle (best quote all week from TA: “Tom Thibodeau has been great (in) both series,” Allen said of the C’s assistant coach and defensive whiz. “Every time I listened to him, I was able to stay on the floor. So I’m listening to Tom Thibodeau as much as I can.” This is a sign, folks, of TA’s maturation unfolding before our very eyes)
  • TA Shooting Shirt will be ordered once he is re-signed... I hope he is re-signed.

    TA Shooting Shirt will be ordered once he is re-signed... I hope he is re-signed.

    More gushing over Tony Allen: drawing the assignment of Vince Carter after D-Wade and Lebron will hopefully make him even more eager to SHUT DOWN that part of the offense (and yes, if TA re-signs with this team, my next season purchase will surely be a Tony Allen Shooting Shirt) and even have some fun with it: more TA Jig’s, please

  • KG has legs again (thank goodness)
  • Ray has been so crucial in hitting his shots
  • Glen Davis has notably earned his minutes during this stretch
  • Sheed has shown small signs of compliance
  • Doc has been running with rotations that work, even as strange as they may seem

First El Heat. Then the LeCavs. Now, the Magicians.
Game 1 today, 3:30pm. See you there.

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