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Endings, Not Ending

 

This might be the last time we use this photo.

A year ago, before the C’s last game of the season, I wrote this sentimental little passage :

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.

Last night’s twin disasters (game six, the news on Avery Bradley) seem to have repositioned the Celtics’ playoff prospects in everyone’s minds. A series win over the Sixers is far from assured and even if they do advance, with Bradley out, Ray Allen a shell of himself and even Paul Pierce’s health in question, the C’s appear underequipped to stop Miami’s perimeter stars from getting to the rim. The C’s look like serious underdogs even if Chris Bosh isn’t able to play.

But I’m still feeling a sense of zen with this team because they’re playing with house money. With everything that’s gone wrong this (condensed) season, it’s impressive the Celtics are a win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. You could reasonably argue they’re already a success.

Whenever the season ends, we need to talk about Danny Ainge’s recent proclivity for assembling, or failing to disassemble, teams that fall apart healthwise, but we should spend as much time talking about Doc’s incredible facility taking patchwork teams beyond their capabilities. I don’t have to reiterate this point to regular readers of the site but the Celtics are a terrible offensive team. They have no business challenging for a spot in the finals. So, that feels good.

It’s not even clear this is the final year of this era. Sure, Allen seems like he may be destined for Miami or Chicago or the Clippers but as his game and health have faded this year, we’ve been going through a slow breakup with him. We’re ready for Bradley to take over next season and happy to let go of any errant OJ Mayo talk. There are no concerns about Doc Rivers this season. Speculation aside, we know Doc will be back next year. And for years after that. Paul Pierce is signed for two more seasons and his market may not be vibrant enough for Ainge to move him. Kevin Garnett seems destined to wear green next season or spend his days on Malibu Beach, swearing at homeless drug addicts and other celebrities.

So, bring game seven and bring the Heat. Or don’t. Either way, the C’s have overachieved this season versus expectations and the obstacles in front of them. If we’re talking about the offseason on Monday morning, there’s plenty of healthy debate to keep us all interested until October.

  • High Rollers

    Cool post. I love overachievers. They're constantly laying the dynamite under low expectations, making us think bigger than we would otherwise.

  • ElRoz

    Rondo and Bradley next season..plus draft picks…and maybe Jeff Green signs with Boston…you got three guys that can run.
    Maybe the team will work with Hollins and Stiemsma and improve these guys. Would not mind seeing Wilcox back and Bass as well.

    KG and Pierce will be good next year. You simply cannot do better than KG for $10-$12 mil a year…if that could be worked out.

    • CG12

      I'd guess we will see a bunch of the guys who aren't under contract come back this year. This is a really good group, and I'm sure that some of the FAs will look at it and figure they would be way better off playing on a really tight Celtics team vs., for instance, trying to pry the ball from Boogie Counsins's cold, dead hands.

  • Mark

    There is absolutely no good reason for me to do so but I teared up a bit. It might be the last run for this group, it might not, but there will be a youth shift within the organization that will probably reduce the Big Three to bench/secondary status. It will be an end of an era with this group for sure but its time has certainly come.

    • someguyinsac

      You're not alone in getting sentimental about it and I'm going to keep enjoying the ride however far it gets.

  • James Patrick

    Ryan DeGama , save your negativity! We got this. And we're taking it to Miami too! BAM!

    • Ryan DeGama

      James Patrick, I like your attitude. +1.

  • Anthony

    I think Ryan wrote this right after last night's game. However, it does a great job of summing up the expectations of most Celts fans. Sometimes we think it's a championship team, sometimes we think why are we even in the playoffs.

    It reminds us that the team to this point, has or should have already exceeded our expectations. Despite the lockout, all the injuries and still come out with Division Title and a likely conference finals is still pretty darn good.

    Personally, I still believe in #18 this season.

  • High Rollers

    Heat in ECF. That’s quite a carrot. If you want Miami, gotta protect the Garden Saturday. Quiero Miami!

    • CelticsBIG3

      Speaking of quiero Miami, who more right this exact second than LARRY LEGEND wants the Celtics to win Saturday night and (excuse my language) FUCK UP MIAMI in the ECF?!?!!!? Lets do what Larry's Pacers couldn't baby

  • ElRoz

    With a 4-2 win against Indiana, it will be Miami that will get the extra few days of rest…not the Celtics.

    Another unfortunate outcome.

  • ElRoz

    Can Doc call out his inner Popovich and use his bench more?

    Dooling, Hollins, Stiemsma, Pietrus – these four guys got to get more minutes, extra 3-4 minutes a game for each would be nice.

  • John V

    Ryan writes the Celtics are playing with house money. I don't really agree. Against Miami, yes. But not game 7. If they can't get past the Sixers, that's a failure of a season. Making the NBA's Elite Eight is ok, depending. But it's not the Bulls the Cs are going up against. It's the freaking Sixers.

    If they win game 7, they'll play with house money, and there may even be moral victories. I'm not counting them out of beating Miami, either. I'm just saying, with all their injuries, getting to the conference Finals is still a successful season. Losing to the Sixers isn't.

  • Hype

    Losing to the Sixers is way worse than losing to the Heat. Let's not go into the offseason having lost to the Sixers.

  • Eugene E

    Yeah! NO WAY SHOULD WE LOSE TO THOSE EFFING SIXERS!

  • Kafel

    I agree and disagree with this article at the same time. Before All-Star break I didn't think that Celtics could do much damage in playoffs BUT after All-Star break it changed and right before end of regular season I believed that with a bit of luck ( no injuries for example ) They can handle Chicago in second round.

    So as I said it's a great achievement if You look at the bad start of the season and how people were talking about Boston missing playoffs but in the same time it is a bit disappointing if They can't beat Sixers – team that doesn't belong here. And this series should end up after 5 games…
    I hope that They will beat Philadelphia in game 7 and give the stinkers from south beach They best shot and who knows what will happen.

  • Carlos R

    C's will win game 7, then will force Miami to at least 6 games before falling due to exhaustion and injuries… Next season will be better… I've heard Danny A. will try to lure Roy Hibbert…That would be a nice fit..

  • skeeds

    I've often said that no matter how far we go, this run has been an over achievement after we lost our 3rd player for the season. And now we lost one more.

    With Bradley out, Ray unable to be Ray, and Pierce playing on one knee, what can we possibly do against Miami? Probably nothing. But I do not care AT ALL. Grit and balls baby. Lets get game 7, and then we'll deal with Wade.
    Throw Dooling, Pietrus, Ray and even Rondo on him if we need. Have Pavlovic, Quisy and The Truth send Lebron 36 times a game to the line. Make him earn his money on the stripe. And let's see what THEY can do about KG!
    Just, please, let's win this game 7! I'd rather we were swept by a title favorite, than go down to a mediocre team because they played harder than us…

  • IBleedGreen

    Miami now gets a bye to the NBA Finals, where they await the winner of OKC-San Antonio.

    —John Hollinger @johnhollingerMay 24, 2012

  • Dmitry

    No matter what I'm confident in Celtics capability, Game 7 is a win for sure, and 50/50 chances to upset Miami. LETS GO CELTICS! GREEN POWERRR!

  • felix

    Show some celtic pride! lotsa negativity here!
    Bradley is not the super decisive player versus the heat – apart from the fact that we first have to beat philly. He couldn't be put on Wade anyway due to his size. I think MP will be far more important.
    I think the Cs do very well have a chance against Miami if they play them smart – which is giving the ball down low to Garnett. After all, with or without Bosh there is no one to stop him.

  • High Rollers

    @Felix AB had a block while covering Wade that was so ferocious they made a commercial out of it. He gives Wade fits and forces self-aggrandizing compliments out of him. But with surgery looming, save all that for another day and another season. We still have plenty of hungry wings on the payroll ready for call. It’s all about team D anyway. Saturday can’t get here soon enough!

    • felix

      well, yes, you are completely right. i totally forgot about that block, that was huge!
      geez, that's embarassing now:)
      Of course i would love to see him on the floor….however, i really think that IF garnett has 24-12 games, lebron and dwayne can score as much as they want, green&white still has a shot.

      • High Rollers

        Definitely.

  • tbunny

    I think they will beat the Sixers. It will be tough but I think they execute. As for Miami, they are going to need terrific play from all the 1-3s. Losing Bradley has hurt so much in that respect that it's been a tough couple days. But I think they will give it everything they have. And they have some ballers themselves.

  • zach

    great article, this is not a time to be "mad" at this team given all the injuries/age. They are a testement to team basketball. With a healthy AB, Paul, and Ray we could have taken out the Heat. But who knows, without Bosh maybe we still can. And if we can resign KG there is reason for optimism next year – could have a great combination of youth and experience.

  • http://bostonsportslab.blogspot.com Dennis

    Why the Celtics should become like the Spurs this offseason:
    http://bostonsportslab.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-c

  • dubeezzz

    I believe the Celtics have a chance. You can never really count these guys out, but at the same time, I'm excited for this offseason and the opportunities the C's are going to have. We got money coming off the books (Keep KG, maybe 10 mil, 2 years?) and we got 2 draft picks I believe.
    I'm think a draft night trade, 2 picks and ray allen for a difference maker perhaps? Maybe we'll use both the picks and get good talent, maybe we'll jump ahead in the draft and get someone DA really likes.

    Free agents? THere's Kaman, Hibbert if he can be bought out from Indiana, and Kris Humphries is unrestricted, maybe the C's push for him. I like the idea of getting a young guy for Doc and KG to groom-JJ Hickson, Carl LAndry. But also I like BAss, so maybe spend that money elsewhere. ERic Gordon is an option, but I like Bradley too much to move him back to the bench. It's not absurd to think one day Bradley will be better than Gordon.

    Also, can't forget Jeff Green will be back. Hopefully, he hasn't regressed completely. I like a rondo, bradley, pierce, green, kg, bass team. We need to add things and for the first time in a while, this team has options.

    Looking forward to these playoffs but am excited about this club's future.

  • phreesh

    Did I come ot the right site? Maybe I need some glasses, but I was sure I clicked on Celtics Hub. Let me check… Yup, I typed that in right.

    Then what the hell is a defeatest post doing here? House money? Why do we play the game? To have fun? Nope. To win the game. Failure should not be acceptable (unless you're a Clippers fan and then that's just the habit).

    The Celtics should beat Philly. If they don't every Celtics fan should burn their Jerseys and cancel their season tickets.

    It's really the only reasonable thing to do.

    • jman

      Won't need to do that as long as the C's push the ball and go to the basket which they failed to do the other night. Pierce wsa the only one doing it. Rondo tried but failed for he was trying to do amazing plays instead of playing smart. It's a great season they have had and I've enjoyed many of wins and losses this year with them. Glad as hell they stayed together, however they have more wins ahead of them if they want them… AB's injury is not the game changer(Frivolous speech there lol) Rondo, Pierce amd KG are the game changers. Not even Ray…Rondo Pierce and KG need to play right and we'll be having more games starting Monday night against Stern's Boy's

      • Mr.Rogers

        SIXERS GONNA WIN BABY!!!!!!!!!

    • Mr.Rogers

      WE ALL KNOW SIXERS GONNA WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mr.Rogers

    WE SUCK AT EVERYTHING BECAUSE BOSTON IS NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING

  • chrisindanvers

    First, let's face it. This team has come a long way from expectations from the start of the year. If said said this team was going to be in the conference finals, you would have thought they were crazy (until Derrick Rose's injury). And the way the Celtics started, the playoffs seemed a pipe dream. Because of injuries, I think all dreams are tempered for this team….but it can still do damage.

    As for the future, I think the Celtics are in good shape. Pierce, Rondo, and Bradley are all nice pieces. Steimsma can be had for a qualifying offer. Moore and Johnson will have two summer camps to get their acts together. And, two draft picks will be coming in. Sure, that is hardly a playoff team right there, but it will be solid.

    Then, add the rest of the pieces. Bass has suggested he would like to come back. Pietrus has already talked about next year. Green has stated all along that he hopes to return. Now, this team looks like it has potential.

    Chances are KG – if he comes back – will be here (he has long said "it is all about Doc" and also said that he didn't really want to play for someone other than Doc). Dooling could be back and the way WIlcox was bought out, he can come back, too. Not bad at all.

    I would not be surprised in Ray retires or takes time to come back from his second double ankle injury, so he may have to be counted out. So, it looks like Danny Ainge (I believe he will be back) will need to find a center and a guard.

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