The Celtics have set themselves up to be 1 win away from raising #18. Our hats off to Pierce for his stellar play on creating offense for himself and others, to KG for his ludicrously solid play on both sides of the ball, and to Rondo for doing what he does on both offense and defense.
This one’s for you, Doc.
As a fan, I have criticized so many of your decisions about rotations. Not who starts, not even necessarily who finishes, but all of those minutes found between the first nine minutes and the final eight minutes. I have ragged on you so many times for taking out players that are playing well, or even worse, putting in guys that are not playing well.
Yeah, so about that… I am sorry, Doc.
Last night, in game 4 of the NBA Finals, you stuck with the bench. You stuck with the reserves. You stuck with the Green Team. You stuck with what Pat Conroy would have called the “Green Weenies” because they were doing two things at the same time: making stops and scoring the ball.
Thank you for not only seeing this, but for doing something about it. You cannot find louder praise than this voice right here for your management of personalities on his team, your ability to draw up brilliantly beautiful out-of-bounds plays, or your sixth sense for crafting near fool-proof gameplan against stronger and more talented opponents: your understanding of how to take advantage of certain match-ups and exploit teams’ weaknesses is second to none. But I have endured countless ulcers due to your bench management. This is often when games are won and lost: you either break up the flow or inject the much needed catalyst into the game.
I don’t need to get into the staggering and surprising play of both Glen Davis and Nate Robinson because everyone knows about it. But man oh man, leaving the reserves in for nearly 9 minutes in the final quarter of such a crucial game was both refreshing for us fans and empowering for theSe players. The Lakers may or may not have an answer forthright Celtics bench, or neither Davis nor Robinson may show up in he next game… But you have given a clear message to everyone on your bench: you play well, you get minutes. The underlying message, however, is equally as important. The Celtics care about one thing, and that one thing is whatever it takes to win a game in the Finals. And you have done a flat out kick ass job, Doc, of selling that idea to your entire team.
It is crazy to think you left nearly $40 million worth of goods on your bench in Pierce and Garnett, but you did your job well even if they were not doing theirs.
It is sort of like when a player is cold all game, then hits the go-ahead bucket to go give his team a win. You have struggled with your lineups for so long (there’s no hiding that), but you got this one right.
So yes, my apologies to you, Doc.
I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.
From all of us at Loscy, congrats on the Finals record of 8 threes in a single game.
From all of us at Loscy, THANK YOU for making 8 threes in game 2.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
And then some.
Let’s just do this quickly and get it out of the way before moving on to what really matters: here is why the Celtics stunk up the gym with their incredulously grotesque play:
- The Celtics were punked on the boards
- The Lakers bigs repeatedly baby-slapped the Celtics bigs
- The Lakers flawlessly executed on both the offensive and defensive ends without the Celtics successfully making (any) in-game adjustments
- The Celtics’ offense was stagnant and there was anything but ball movement
- The Celtics missed nearly every darn defensive rotation when the ball moved from inside/out and outside/in
- The Celtics were on the pathetic end of fighting for every single 50/50 ball on the floor
Now we are done with that. So done with that. The Celtics have been watching film, the coaches have prepared their game-plans, and Saturday’s practice will be spent running through defensive and offensive sets to ensure some fluidity to their execution on Sunday night. Remember this: game plans are not any crazy secret. There are only so many high pick-n-rolls, re-directions, and penetrate/kick plays you can run on offense. It’s all about how well you execute the play. The defensive assignments may be a bit complicated for some casual fans to understand (Thibs’ “help the helper” scheme and how to show-n-roll when defending the picks), but not for the players. It’s the same system they’ve played with for the last 3 years (for the core members).
It all comes down to trusting each other to execute and playing together. Doc’s been saying it all season: trust in each other and you will win together. As an outsider like myself, it’s easy for me to believe in what Doc preaches. But Doc and Thibs can come up with the picture perfect game-plan (as they have for the ENTIRE 2010 playoffs), but it comes down to the five guys on the floor to make it work and make it happen.
It was strange on Thursday night, though: the team of old vets looked like they were just happy to be on the court. It looked like the Celtics were taken up in the moment: the hype, the lights, the stars. It was an odd sensation to see all of the wonderful things the Celtics did simply disappear when the Finals logo was etched into their jerseys. It was as if the showers of Laker Gold stupefied the Celtics and everything the Celts’ did felt robotic and forced instead of organic. The Celtics simply did not respond to what was happening, and never fully let the game come to them.
But, this will not be a trend. Just like the transition from the regular season to the playoff season, the Celtics are able to flip the switch from playing a bit lackadaisical to playing with furious intensity. On a more microscopic level, the Celtics will make the switch again from game 1 to every other game after. They simply do not have a choice.
The pundits and Celtic fanbase have already given up on this scrappy team once, if not more times. I loss faith in this team as an automatic contender numerous times, but I never counted them out. Why count out your own team? Especially when you know what they’re capable of?
So this begs the question: why not stay optimistic? Why not believe that the Celtics can be the ones to poetically break Phil Jackson’s 47-0 series record after winning game 1 in the playoffs. Like the brilliant Stan Van Gundy noted: someone has to break history, and it might as well be us. In this case, it might as well be the Celtics.
There is a reason the Finals are best out of 7: the series is not won or lost in the first game. Be happy that the poor symptomatic play listed above can all be cured: ALL OF IT. Again, we know what this team is capable of. The only question is, which team will show up on Sunday night? The Celtics team that plays every game like it’s game 7, or the Celtics team that simply feels honored to be back in the Finals? It better damn well be the team that plays with their backs against the wall because this could be their last chance to win a title… together.
(all photos courtesy of NBA/Getty images via yahoo sports)
I made these videos last year as an homage to the 2008 playoffs.
Why not revisit them again??
NBA 2010 Finals Preview coming soon.
1 Thursday 6/3 9pm (LA)
2 Sunday 6/6 8pm (LA)
3 Tuesday 6/8 9pm (BOS)
4 Thursday 6/10 9pm (BOS)
5 Sunday 6/13 8pm(BOS)
6 Tuesday 6/15 9pm (LA)
7 Thursday 6/17 9pm (LA)
Celtics in 6.