“Our guys don’t care,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We want to get healthy. And when we get healthy, we’re willing to lace them up against anybody.”
Seems like a fair enough statement that kind of shrugs off the loss as no big deal. This also leaves the team with a mindset that we will get them when it counts. Not surprising at all given the circumstances. Stan Van Gundy however is tired of hearing the Celtics talk down their big losses:
“I want to know how some teams get on the list, where they get excuses and other teams are not on that list. All I’ve been hearing about is all the injury problems the Celtics have had this year,” Van Gundy said.
My reaction in seeing both of these quotes is wondering aloud about whether Van Gundy does in fact have a valid point here. After putting some thought into it, I have decided to counter his complaints with a couple explanations on why the Celtics are able to cling to excuses after they have dropped two recent showdowns with playoff implications to the Magic:
1) The Boston Celtics are the defending champions. The Orlando Magic did not make it past the second round last year. That may not matter to Stan Van Gundy but it does to the media and fans at large. The Celtics have proved they can win it all so they have earned the benefit of the doubt, especially when it is clear they are not at full strength as a team. Since this was the case the last two times these teams went head to head with the Celtics losing, these results are not going to change many people’s opinion on who is the better team. This brings me to my next point.
2) The Orlando Magic are as healthy right now as they are going to be this season. What you see right now with the Magic is what you are going to get. Of course the injury to Jameer Nelson hurts, but the fact of the matter is he is not going to be suiting up again this year. End of story. Therefore Orlando does not have any injury excuses that are relevant to the playoff discussion right now.
On the other hand, all of the Boston Celtics injuries can be used as excuses because those players WILL be back at full strength for the playoffs. (hopefully) So when Doc makes a statement like the one above, he can hang his hat on it to keep his team’s confidence high after a rocky stretch since he knows those players like Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, and Tony Allen will be making a more complete impact on this team before this year is over.
The way I see it right now Orlando is in a similar position to where Boston was last year. They have made a nice run during the regular season but they have proven nothing yet and won’t be able to until the playoffs start. The Celtics had plenty of doubters last year especially in the finals, but they went out, got the job done, and earned the nation’s respect. Along with that respect came the right to have injury excuses. Orlando isn’t in that category yet. Before I go, one more quote from Van Gundy
“All I know is, we’ve beaten a lot of the teams that everyone thinks are better than us. The perception of us does not always match up with reality. We’re not feared defensively, but I’ll put us up against anyone in the league when it comes to being ready to play night in and night out.”
That’s a true statement and it would serve the coach well to instill that chip on the shoulder attitude in his players. For now though to put it simply, the Magic need to prove they can win in the postseason. They have to show that they can play as at an elite level when it counts. Until then, the doubters will (rightfully) remain.
See you in May.