In the regular season they were untouchable (unless you were the Washington Wizards). In the playoffs, however, they've become two-faced. They're still the Celtics we know and love at home, but we've been exposed to the pseudo-Celtics on the road. I've never gotten sick on a roller coaster ride before, but this playoff turmoil isn't sitting too well right now.
There wasn't really a lot of good to take out of Game 4. In the Hawks' series I was never nervous. I mean, come on, it was the Atlanta Hawks. Even as we went into Game 7 I was pretty confident the Celtics would pull through. Unfortunately, LeBron James' dunk in the final moments of last night's contest shattered my confidence for this series. It wasn't that it was over the Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Garnett. Or the fact that it put a colossal exclamation point on the Cavs' victory. It was that after that dunk, LeBron got that look on his face. The same look that ended Detroit's season last year. He knew the series was his for the taking.
|LeBron made sure this series was tied on its way back to Boston with authority. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)|
After a successful tightrope-walk in the first game and a knockout punch in the second, it looked like Boston had gotten it's swagger back. Two road games later and the pseudo-Celtics have gone and shown their ugly head again.
I've heard the facts so I know the road teams are a dreadful 1-15 so far in the second round; but it doesn't make me feel any better. Remember when you were little and you'd see if you could stay out later by informing your mother that your friend's mother allows a later curfew? I finally understand the customary reply now - "Well I'm not (insert friend's name here)'s mother, I'm your mother!" I don't care if the Lakers, Jazz, Spurs, Hornets and Magic have lost all their road games. I'm not their mother - I'm the Celtics' mother! I swear if they keep playing like this I'll turn this car right around!
All jokes aside I'm petrified now. All of a sudden we're in a battle against the league's premier threat, LeBron James. There are three things that scared me the most out of last night's game. Let's take a look at them in reverse order.
The Big Three
3) Apparently Kevin Garnett can't do squat in the paint against Anderson Varejao. There has been a ton of talk about how good the Cavs are defensively. I still don't really see it. The Celtics have been getting opportunities, they just haven't been capitalizing. They had plenty of good looks last night in the fourth quarter during Cleveland's scoring drought, but they failed to put the ball in the basket. KG got the ball in one-on-one coverage against Varejao during numerous pivotal possessions in the second half but couldn't score. I know Varejao brings hustle and takes a charge better than most, but is he really a great one-on-one defender? KG should've owned this match-up, but instead it ended up being a big part of why we continued our road woes.
2) Eh, what's up Doc? That's right, our head coach is showing his inability to shuffle lineups at the worst possible time. Cassell was downright awful last night. It was pretty evident once he stepped foot on the court but Doc decided to keep him out there for the first five minutes of a deadlocked fourth quarter. What happened? He threw the entire team out of rhythm. The Boston Celtics looked like the Cleveland LeBrons where one player would run the ball up the court and shoot while everyone else stood around and watched. I'm not really sure why this didn't work but perhaps it's because CASSELL IS NOT LEBRON!
Big Baby saw five minutes of action. They weren't garbage minutes either. They came in the fourth quarter…about the same time when the Celtics lost pace with the Cavs. Don't get me wrong I like Big Baby, but what good is he possibly going to do in a back-and-forth playoff game after sitting out the entire game? The answer - take and miss a 15-footer to ruin a crucial Celtics' possession.
Leon Powe played six minutes…SIX MINUTES! I'm not even going to elaborate on this because it's just ridiculous.
1) King James is back. The Celtics have done a phenomenal job on him so far in the series. His shooting percentage in the first four games of the series is a lowly 25.6%. He's averaging less than 20 points a game, which is about 10 less than his season average. However, in the end of Game 4, he came through. It seemed like the score was 76-73 for an eternity before LeBron nailed a three-pointer to double the lead. Shortly thereafter he found Gibson for another three and then finished off the game with his emphatic dunk. An immediate timeout was called and LeBron's smirk was instantly recognizable. He knew he finally came through when his team needed him most. This was a series again and LeBron was back in full force.
The Celtics escaped Game 1 with a victory but they really need to jump on the Cavaliers quickly. LeBron proved last year against the Pistons and again last night that when a playoff game hangs in the balance and is there for the taking, he'll take it.
Home Sweet Home
Luckily, the Celtics are back home for the all-important Game 5. This is a must-win game and the biggest Celtics' game over the past six years (Eastern Conference Finals vs. New Jersey). I'm just praying the pseudo-Celtics don't find their way onto the court. Every Celtic should be counting down the minutes to get back on the court and erase the memories of Games 3 and 4. It's the playoffs and time for the Celtics to step up and take the momentum back in this series.
I'm lucky enough to have tickets to Game 5 (and, if necessary, Game 7). I'll be the guy on the edge of his seat…along with the rest of the Celtics' faithful. I've been bleeding green for quite some time now, but this blood is starting to become a little painful. As always - GO CELTS!