Everyone holds out hope the Celtics will lash out at Miami tonight with renewed energy and send the series back to the TD Garden for game six on Friday night, but there remains a very real possibility that tonight will be Boston’s final game of the 2010-11 season. This is not to bury the C’s but a reminder that you may be watching this particular core for the last time.
This might be the final night we’ll see Doc Rivers stalking the sidelines in front of the Boston bench. Kevin Garnett may choose to retire rather than wait out a lockout for the final half-season of his contract.
It seems increasingly certain that neither Jermaine O’Neal nor Shaquille O’Neal will play basketball beyond this spring. This may also be the final go-around for Glen Davis and Delonte West in Celtics’ uniforms. Both will be free agents this summer.
And while you surely don’t approach them with nearly the same kind of sentiment as the guys above, does anyone expect to see Nenad Krstic, Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo back here next year?
The 2011-12 Boston Celtics may be no more than Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and eight other guys with whom Celtics fans have no history. Sure, that’s still three of the big four, but there would be an inestimable void without #5 on the court, should he decide to step away. Think at all the angst felt since the departure of Kendrick Perkins.
None of this is meant to kill the vibe in the room (Monday night’s game took care of that quite nicely). But it is a reminder to enjoy watching these guys tonight, no matter the result. There may yet be one final Rondo-to-Garnett alley oop left in them, one last ill-advised Davis jumpshot to draw your ire, one final demand from Doc that the team pick up the pace. And for all the scattered half-efforts and no-shows over the last four years, no final estimation of this era would be fair without recognizing how superb this group has played and the renaissance their assembly sparked for this franchise. And there remains the little matter of that seventeenth banner they hung up in the rafters.
In sports as with anything else, it seems like there’s never enough time with the things you love. And however wildly our opinions may vary about the importance of a group of multi-millionaires playing a game, it seems reasonable to assume that love is the word many of you would use to describe your feelings towards them. Because ‘millionaires playing a game’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s not even close.
Tipoff is at 7:00 EST tonight.
It’s not one you want to miss.