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No need to panic over Celtics

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  May 2, 2011 11:52 AM

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MIAMI -- The Miami Heat opened up their playoff series vs. the Celtics with a sound, intelligent, well-executed performance. Now it's Boston's turn.

There is no need to panic. A team in the Celtics' position always wants to get one of the first two, and it really doesn't matter which one. Even if they go 0-for-2, it doesn't mean the series is over. I refer you to the Boston Bruins.

Forget the Paul Pierce sub-plot. It had nothing to do with winning or losing. I don't care what the score was when he got the heave-ho; the Celtics weren't winning that game. Better he watch the remainder of the game from the safety of the locker room than, say, trip over someone with a minute to go and sprain an ankle.

Am I forgiving him for being such a jerk? No. It was conduct unbecoming a captain, let alone someone who wishes to go down as a member of the All-Time Celtics inner sanctum. You'd think he'd have expunged all the adolescent silliness from his repertoire by now. But it's over, and I would like to think we can expect him to act professionally from now on.

Now when a team has some age on it, as Boston does, you're always looking for tell-tale signs that the end is near. The Spurs can serve as an example that, sooner or later, you just can't do it anymore. I did not see that on Sunday. Not yet, anyway.

Can we not reasonably assume that will be Rajon Rondo's nadir in this series? He will not go nearly 27 minutes into Tuesday night's game before getting an assist. Can we not assume that Kevin Garnett will be more of an offensive factor? These strike me as reasonable assumptions.

The bench remains worrisome, and it may be Boston's undoing. Baby hit his first two jumpers and never scored again. Delonte West is slowly scraping off the rust from all that inactivity. Jeff Green continues to tease with some nice offense, even as we wait for him to be the defender and rebounder the Celtics need him to be. What he does best is run the floor, but that seldom comes into play. And Nenad Krstic is still a bit player.

Shaq? If we ever do see him, he can't be viewed as a savior. But every day he doesn't play makes Danny Ainge look bad. It's not as if Kendrick Perkins is lighting it up with Oklahoma City, but he did have his well-defined role here, as we all know.

Remember this about The Trade. Revisionist historians to the contrary, at the time of the trade the Celtics were not a mortal lock to win the championship. They were among the teams with a good shot; nothing more, nothing less. But if you listen to some hysterical people, they were odds-on favorites and Danny blow-torched their chances away. And may I point out that he traded Kendrick Perkins, not Bill Russell?

Above all, remember that it was a universal opinion that the Celtics as constituted had a three-year window to win a title. They got it done in Year One. This is Year Four, clearly a bonus never foreseen in 2007. Fan greed is not a healthy thing. This group has already given people more than anyone could have rightfully asked for.

But, yes, absolutely, they do have one more important task to perform. For the greater good of the sport, they need to put a stop to this Miami thing right here and now. We can't have Miami winning right out of the chute, thereby justifying the repugnant night of The Decision and the even more annoying celebration before they had even won a game. The Heat must be made to wait, and I'm not sure the Bulls are up to it. No, it's got to be the Celtics.

What I'm saying is that Game 2 is rather important.

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