There has been a lot made about “mental toughness” in this postseason. I’m not a big believer in it, feeling that 9 times out of 10 time, the team with the best players and best gameplan will prevail, regardless of a team’s mental makeup.
However, I may be beginning to to change that mentality, after seeing the way these Boston Celtics have sucked the life and confidence out of their opponents this postseason.
It was seen in game 6 of the Cavs series, when Cleveland threw in the towel in the closing moments of the contest, even though the deficit wasn’t completely out of reach.
Then, came game 3 Saturday night, where the C’s did whatever they want on both ends of the floor for literally 48 minutes of that contest. Boston led big in both games of Orlando, but the Magic made a run in both contests to make it at least interesting in the closing moments.
There was no such run in game 3, just hopeless, defeated looks from the defending Eastern Conference Champions.
That defeated attitude has appeared to carry over for at least Dwight Howard into tonight. How so? I direct you to the 1:20 mark of his interview yesterday with Cheryl Miller below from yesterday’s practice. A full transcript of the comments and some thoughts on Howard, after the jump
Cheryl Miller: I’m going to say if, but if Boston closes out tomorrow night, how would you view this season?
Dwight Howard: Uh, well I think we had a great season. I don’t think the season is over with, but we had a great season. We did a lot of great things this year, we grew from the first half to the second half. We got a lot better. All you ask for with a new team is progress. We done that. We know we got a lot of work to do, but we had a successful season.
Miller: You still have one more game!
Howard: We still got one more game. We don’t want to look at it that way. We want to come in and get this game and go home and get another game, and the series can change from there.
I watched this interview live on Inside The NBA last night, and I couldn’t help but do a double take at Howard’s remarks.
First, we have the initial question. All due respect to Mr. Howard, but there is no way anyone on the Celtics, or simply anyone with a Championship mentality, answers that question in that manner.
To be perfectly honest, if the roles were reversed, with Boston down 3-0 and anyone on the Celtics fielded that question, I am supremely confident they wouldn’t even answer that question.
Instead, they would politely inform Cheryl Miller, that, “hey I respect the question, but our season isn’t over yet, so I can’t answer that. There will be plenty of time to reflect onto the season when it is over, but we don’t plan on it ending anytime soon.”
Something like that. It sounds like a vanilla answer, but it’s the one you want coming from your team leader when they are in a deep hole. A sign that they aren’t willing to give up, aren’t willing to throw in the towel, and aren’t satisfied with an impressive playoff run for 2 rounds, only to be blown out of the water in the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s just a defeatist attitude.
Then there’s the “great season” stuff from Mr. Howard. You guys made progress this year Dwight? Really? Didn’t you make it to the Finals last year? How is this year progress then?
I understand that, this Orlando team had a lot of new faces, and that yes, the Magic likely made progress as a team during the year, still those remarks would alarm me if I’m a Orlando fan.
That’s loser talk right there, the talk of someone who doesn’t crave a Championship. That’s the talk of someone whose season is over, not someone who still has something to fight for!
Listen, Orlando is in a hole that is too big to climb out of against a better overall team. That locker room may not believe they can come back, but to openly reflect on a season of “progress and success” in public when you are down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals?
That’s not a player with a driven winning mentality. That’s a guy who is satisfied with something less than the ultimate goal and quite frankly isn’t a person I would want leading my team.
So why am I surprised by all this talk? I guess it’s because I hadn’t heard any of it in awhile. It’s easy to take for granted a team like the Boston Celtics, when after three years, you’d never hear anything close to a sound bite like we just heard from Superman. That kind of attitude would not be accepted in that locker room from anyone on the roster, much less the team’s best player.
So be thankful Celtics fans, that you have a team that plays tough as nails on the floor, and is just as mentally tough off of it.
Dwight’s ready for his season to be over…..let’s see if the Celtics can give him his wish tonight.