The Boston Celtics will have an opportunity to move one step closer to the NBA Finals with a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday night against the 76ers.
Midway through the season the Celtics were probably one of the last teams anyone would have picked to be in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now they have the chance to be the first.
The aging Celtics could certainly use the rest that would come with ending the in six games. With the series between the Heat and Pacers going at least six games, the earliest the ECF would start would be Saturday. A victory on Wednesday night for Boston would also help to exercise some of the "can't close em' out" demons that have dogged the Celtics in this series and others over the last five seasons. All of these factors benefit the Celtics, but the psychological importance of being first to close should not be overlooked.
If the Celtics can finish off Philadelphia on Wednesday night it will put pressure on the Miami Heat to close out the Indiana Pacers on Thursday evening. As we saw earlier in that series, the Miami Heat do not necessarily excel in pressure situations. The pressure intensifies for Miami when they know that it is Boston that awaits them in the the next round. The Pacers have shown great fight as a team and exposed some weakness in Miami's armor, but they are not the Celtics. Indiana doesn't have that winning pedigree yet. They don't have the cache of having three Hall of Fame players and one of the most dynamic point guards in the league. They don't have the experience of having sent Dwyane Wade and Lebron James home losers in an NBA Playoff series. They don't have that championship swagger. They don't have Doc Rivers. Miami knows that the team that holds the greatest threat to making a return appearance in the NBA Finals resides in Boston. What better way to make them think about it even more by ending this series that should have been over in four and be able to put your feet up and rest?
The Celtics need to make the Heat answer some questions about a potential Boston-Miami match-up, lusted after by most NBA fans ever since Derrick Rose's knee went boom. Should the Heat lose in Game 6, and have to play a Game 7 in order to move on, there will be rumblings about them looking past Indiana in preparation for Boston. The Celtics can do all of this by simply winning a game against a team that they are clearly better than. A victory Wednesday night, and the Celtics hold the keys to the clubhouse, and they get to make Miami say the password to get in. A loss, and all bets are off. If the Celtics want to stick it to Miami, and start dominating the series before it even begins, they need to win and be first in.
Three things I heard on the interwebs...
1.) Ode To The Stiemer: Celtics rookie Greg Stiemsma received one All-Rookie vote, which is voted on by NBA coaches. Something tells me Bill Russell would have received more.
2.) I See Fat People: KG Expounded on the TD Garden crowd after Monday night's win, “Every time I look up I see my family, I see people yelling, the drunk fat guy, I can’t decide. This crowd is ridiculous - I love it.’’
3.) CAPTION, FIXED: "Hey, aren't you in Rules of Engagement?" "That season is over. Aren't you a Knicks fan?" "Ditto."