It’s been a tough two weeks for Celtics fans. Once the shock of losing a game 7 on the Garden floor started to fade, I started to pull for the Magic to beat the Cavs and delay Lebron’s capturing of the throne in the NBA.
My support for Orlando has puzzled me these past 10 days as I tried to account for the exact reasons that I was pulling for them. Part of it has to be the unabashed smugness Cleveland had all regular season long and during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
I understand a lot of their behavior seemed innocent and jovial enough not to be taken seriously but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth all year. They looked a little too confident and cocky for a team that had won absolutely nothing yet. They dispatched a Detroit team that likely had their cars running in the parking lot before game 4 ended and a Hawk squad that was ravaged by injuries and didn’t match up well.
Thus it brought a little bit of a smile to my face to see this team hit a roadblock. I almost felt bad for Lebron watching him try to go one on five against a balanced Magic team. I love Delonte West but when he is your 2nd best player in a series, you are going to have problems. Lebron may have been the best player in the series but Orlando had the next four, maybe more.
Therefore watching Orlando play its best basketball of the playoffs during the past six games brought me a bit of happiness in the short term. It could be because they without a doubt matched up with the Cavs much better than we would. It could be the sense of pride I feel knowing the undermanned Celtics were a far tougher out for them than Cleveland was. In all honestly it’s probably a combination of both.
It can never hurt knowing that your team lost to the eventual champion. If nothing else, it inspires a little more confidence about your team’s gutty performance and the prospects for its future. There’s no questioning this team’s chances with a healthy clean slate for the next couple years, that much is certain.
For now though I think there’s nothing else I can do but tip my cap to this Magic squad. They or more specifically Stan Van Gundy has been whining all year long about the lack of respect they get. In fact, I’ll just post some remarks I made back in March when SVG was complaining about the treatment his team was getting after defeating the injury ravaged Celtics.
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.
Time to give a tip of the cap where it’s been earned. The doubters have rightfully disappeared. Congrats Orlando and thanks for easing the pain.
Now beat LA.