If you’re a Celtics fan, you’ve got to be excited to be in the Eastern Conference Finals – I sure am. I feel kind of like the third grader about to launch a spitball across the classroom, despite the fact that I know the teacher is watching out of the corner of her eye as she grades papers. The inevitable end to the big three era seems to be upon us, precisely as I envisioned it may be.
When I wrote my Celtics preview before this season began, I wrote that the Celtics were too old to win a championship; if all went perfectly right they could at best lose to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Yesterday’s game 1, if it’s to be any indication, certainly seems to be moving the Celtics along according to plan.
The Heat were too fast. The Heat were too explosive. Rondo seemed a bit out of it again, KG continued his great play but needs to attack the hoop more, and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are clearly doing their best to downplay injuries that are affecting their games. These injuries are no excuse – they’re further evidence that the Celtics are simply old, beaten, and battered up. As much as I love Ray and Paul, they need to be at 100% to contend with Lebron and D-Wade. And while I’m nostalgic about this team as well, I attempt to read the writing on the wall – the Celtics are looking at at least 5 years of rebuilding until they have a chance to be a championship contender once again.
Jeff Van Gundy, eternal idiot, must have made his broadcasting employers overjoyed when he introduced the game yesterday by basically stating, “Last year the Heat won this very series 4-1. This time around Chris Bosh is injured, and the Celtics have lost significant personnel and two of their best players are injured.” Wow, sounds like one hell of a series Van Gundy. Maybe I should be thanking Van Gundy for tuning people off of this series and saving the Celtics the embarrassment – I see this thing going down 4-1 in favor of the Heat just as it did last year.
There’s no doubt that the Celtics have closers, and three of the best players to ever play basketball on their squad – three of the best players who were at their best this past decade. But Lebron and D-wade are two of the best of this generation – the current generation – and the Celtics will simply be overpowered.
The most important thing is for the Heat to lose either this round or in the Finals, which I think they ultimately will. But if the Celtics are to make anything of a series of it, we’ll need:
- Rajon Rondo at his very best
- Paul Pierce taking over in the 3rd and 4th quarters
- KG to continue shooting, but also to attack the basket more
- Ray Allen to light it up with threes
I’m not saying the Celts can’t do it – a perfect storm of great play can get it done for them as long as Chris Bosh remains out. But the Celtics will need an A+ performance if they are to advance, which I just don’t see coming.