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Good effort, good job by Celtics

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 6, 2012 05:50 PM

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rayrondo66finn.jpg

Right sentiments, wrong team, son.

I have to admit that the enthusiastic kid's words to the demoralized Heat players as they left the floor Tuesday night -- words that made him an internet sensation, and words that were essentially paraphrased during Erik Spoelstra's unconvincing postgame remarks -- add up to a more coherent narrative than I can probably muster right now in an attempt for perspective on this series.

There's just so much to process, and so little time between games to do it. I suppose we could start with KG's three-way excellence -- offense, defense, postgame interviews -- or maybe we begin with Doc Rivers's tactical dominance of Spoelstra, whose dog-eared copy of the Quotable Pat Riley is failing him now, or maybe find a half-dozen other worthwhile jumping-off points. But the every-other-day schedule of this series just doesn't leave enough time to thoroughly analyze and reconstruct what happened, let alone to properly ponder the human condition.

When it comes to discussion of last three games (and probably the last four, given Rajon Rondo's for-the-ages 44-point masterpiece in the Game 2 loss), it doesn't leave Celtics fans enough time to savor it, to revel in a turnabout performance so stunning that ESPN has actually ceased its perpetual anointing of the Heat to begin the hunt for scapegoats and potential trade partners.

Of course, maybe that's a good thing. For Celtics fans to revel in what happened so far is understandable and irresistible, but it also isn't so far away from the foolishness anointing the Heat the victors after one game. (Bows head in shame, despite it being a rare misstep in analyzing this team, if I do say so.) Game 6 Thursday night is going to be fierce unless the Celtics somehow break the Heat's will in the first half, and that's unlikely given how difficult it has been to sustain leads in this series. Maybe LeBron James has a 40-18-9 in him. Maybe Rajon Rondo has a masterful 40-something minutes in him. Maybe Paul Pierce drops a vintage The Truth performance. Maybe ...

Ah, there we go getting ahead of ourselves. Forget the maybes right now, because no one (not even David Stern, conspiracy theorists) knows what Game 6 holds. Let's just recognize that the series is not over and anything, as KG famously said, is possssssibuuuulll.

Instead, let's use these remaining hours of relative downtime to do a little random reconsidering of the events of Tuesday night ...

* * *

pierce66finn.jpgAm I wrong, or was Paul Pierce's grit-and-you-know-what-else 3-pointer with 52.9 seconds left perfectly encapsulate what Celtics fans adore about the guy, and also why he occasionally can leave us muttering about "hero ball"? Is that OK to acknowledge today?

He was 5 for 18 shooting at that point, has had a habit of falling into gonna-get-mine-now mode when the Celtics build a decent lead in this series ... and yet there he was once again when the game was dangling in the balance, wiping away a subpar performance with an enormous, pivotal basket just as he has so many times in his 14 seasons here.

It was your classic "no ... no ... YES!" shot, something his boss Danny Ainge also specialized in during his playing days. None of us were surprised that he took it, or that he made it, even if we might have flinched as it left his hand a split-second before LeBron James   closed in.

I swear after watching the replay a half-dozen times that James was baiting him into taking the shot. Of course, unlike LeBron, Pierce hardly needs encouragement to rise to the occasion in those situations. More often than not, he does put the "hero" in "hero ball."

* * *

garnettkevinfinn66.jpgI'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering what Wally Szczerbiak was thinking when KG went to the line for two free throws with 8 seconds left, the Celtics holding a 92-90 lead, and everyone in New England holding their collective breath.

I assume you're well aware that Szczerbiak, Garnett's teammate for six-plus seasons in Minnesota, got steamrolled with backlash after tweeting during Game 2 that, "KG is another one who lacks the #clutchgene. Always has!"

Even though it was hardly an original knock on KG, and no newsflash is required when noting that they weren't the most copacetic of teammates (I'll always wonder whether KG's change of heart in deciding to come here had less to do with the Ray Allen acquisition and more to do with Szczerbiak leaving Boston in the deal), it was still a bit surprising that Szczerbiak threw it out there for the Twitterverse to devour.

KG swished 'em both in those final seconds, as clutch as clutch can be, and while I suspect Szczerbiak might have said something to his companions watching the game along the lines of, "Just watch. He'll miss,'' he was singing a different tune on WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" show this morning.

"KG proved me completely wrong last night,'' Szczerbiak said. "[He] made two huge free throws down the stretch and made a big 15-footer. If I'm one of the naysayers that's helping motivate KG play at this level, then maybe the Boston fans owe me a little thank you. Because he's just playing off the charts."

I don't buy that Szczerbiak suddenly believes KG is clutch. And I certainly don't believe that likes him. There's too much history there for a change of heart. But that part about playing off the charts? Not even an enemy could argue that.

* * *

pietrusfinn66.jpgOne of my recurring aggravations of this season, particularly in the early days, came from readers who suggested Danny Ainge was a lousy GM because he'd allegedly struggled to build a bench or fortify the roster beyond the Big Four since the 2007-08 season.

These correspondents -- and you know who you are -- usually cited letting 2007-08 favorite James Posey go as an example of his incompetence, perhaps unaware that Posey has faded from the league and letting him depart was the right move. (Full disclosure: Not even I can rationalize the Jermaine O'Neal disaster, though I had and have no issue with the Sheed gamble.)

I haven't heard from many of them lately, and so they should consider this an invitation to explain whether they've noticed that Mickael Pietrus is doing a pretty fair Tony Allen imitation (and in his best moments, such as last night, gives us genuine Posey flashbacks), or that Keyon Dooling has a little bit of Eddie House in him, or that Brandon Bass is a more stable option over Glen Davis, or that Avery Bradley, the 19th pick in the 2010 draft, could not have been more essential to their turnaround.

I'm not sure there is a P.J. Brown in this bunch, but it's become apparent that Ainge did an exceptional job in a short offseason of culling together this roster beyond the first four spots. As if he didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt before.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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