C’s (Possible) Date With Destiny

So the Boston Celtics fought off a furious late comeback from the Miami Heat in a punishing game that saw both Paul Pierce and LeBron James sent off after fouling out to knot the NBA’s Eastern Conference Championship at two games apiece. C’s won Game Four 93-91 in overtime, thanks largely to Mickael Pietrus’s two (consecutive) huge offensive boards in the last minute and a half; the Heat had the last shot, an open though off-balance three to win it by D-Wade that bounced off the rim as time expired.

Okay. Tied 2-2 heading back to Miami, who still have home-court; Boston has to take one of the last three IN Miami to pull it out. Here’s the question though: were Boston to take this series, wouldn’t it be one of the greatest stories in NBA history? If they could knock off the Spurs or Thunder (still think it’ll be the Spurs, but that series is a tossup for real), it would be without a doubt one of the greatest stories in NBA history. And if it were the C’s versus the Spurs… omg it’s a sportswriter’s dream: two of the iconic franchises in the NBA, the C’s for their pedigree and the Big Three/Four era, Spurs for the last decade plus, both battered, both mounting second-half runs of pure dominance, both would have outlasted two of the most exciting and younger up-and-coming teams (Heat, Thunder), both with an aging core (Garnett/Pierce/Allen, Duncan/Parker to an extent, and Manu just because he’s been balding since he was like 15), both basically facing their last shot for the foreseeable future at a title. I mean, how great a storyline is that?

Now, the “last shot at a title” thing might be a bit overplayed; both teams will still have top-level talent once their elders retire. For Boston, Rajon Rondo has emerged as the best pure point guard in the entire league — and following his Game Two 44-point, 8-rebound, 10-assist breakout has showed he can score when he needs too. If he continues to improve his jumper, he will be lethal. He’s better than Westbrook, who basically plays two positions (shooting guard as well) and has a weird enough relationship with the best scorer in the league (Durant) that he’s always looking for his own shot when it’s available. Nothing wrong with that. Rondo’s better than D-Rose — as much as it hurts to say it, and though it might be a matter of circumstance: Rose has the talent to play a pure point guard, but given his superlative scoring ability, he’s so often been forced into the primary offensive option for the Bulls, usually because of Boozer’s inconsistency or Deng’s hesitance to assume that role. Rip’s injury-laden campaign didn’t help either. Rondo has Pierce, Garnett, and Allen — three Hall-of-Famers (we can’t really dispute that, can we?) — ahead of him on the scoring order, so he can focus on running the offense and distributing. As for San Antonio, even once Duncan retires (as one of the greatest power forwards ever), you have Parker/Manu for probably five more years, and Parker’s awareness as a PG has dramatically increased this past season, and see no reason why it would regress until age forces the issue. And, though I would probably rather auto-catheterize sans lube than agree with Skip Bayless, Tiago Splitter has genuine potential, as does dynamic rookie Kawhi Leonard. Both the Celtics and Spurs should be able to contend in the twilight of their superheroes, though in the East Miami, Chicago (hell yeah!), and a resurgent Indiana squad will likely beat them in the second round; in the West, a Parker-led Spurs won’t get by OKC or even the Clippers. But it’s not like it’s doomsday for either team… that would have been the decade between MJ retiring (for good… …oh wait) and Ben Gordon’s epic shot/crotch grab:

[True story: I watched this game in a bar in Boston and lost my fucking mind; Bulls 121, Celtics 118 in 2 OT. My then-girlfriend had to pull me aside and be like “Um… we should probably get going… like now,” as I suddenly noticed the crowd of drunk and much burlier (which isn’t hard to accomplish) Bostonians casting evil glares my way; we did escape unscathed, and I did continue to go nuts on the walk back to our apartment without getting punched in the face — a feat I consider among my few greatest everrrrrrr]

But back to the Celtics. If they can down Miami, not only will it be an incredible addition to their absolute pantheon of amazing feats; think about what it would mean for Miami. And, obviously, for LeBron. I won’t even try to conceal my bias here. I fucking hate LeBron and Miami — readily admit he’s the most physically gifted and talented player in the world, but, coming from a small Midwest town that lived and has since died on manufacturing and the working class, I just can’t ever forgive the way he treated Cleveland. And as for the Heat, it’s kind of the same thing as with the Yankees and Manchester City: you can buy talent, you can buy titles even (though not for Miami yet lol), but you can’t buy loyalty and devotion. I’m a Cubs fan for fuck’s sake. I don’t love the Cubs or want to be buried at Wrigley (I do, by the way) or think Wrigley one of the greatest places on earth because they have the best players, and definitely not because they win — because as we all know, we haven’t won a World Series since Roosevelt was the president… …and that would be Teddy. I’m a Cubs fan because I’m tied to the team, I’m from there, first game I ever saw live, and just grew with the team. That’s the difference between the Celtics and the Heat. The Celtics have that deep relationship with their fans and their city; I mean look at Bill Simmons for fuck’s sake, who lives in L.A. now and verbally masturbates about Blake Griffin every other day when the Clips are playing (don’t get me wrong, I love Simmons and am a long-time reader), yet still writes all the time about conversations between him and his dad re: the C’s. It’s in his blood. Like the Cubs, Bulls, Packers, and Arsenal are in mine. Miami just doesn’t have that.

So beyond even writing themselves into NBA history by beating Miami, the Celtics can accomplish a rare thing in sports: justice. They can further tarnish LeBron’s legacy (and he is, I admit, a future Hall-of-Famer) and place the burden of having yet to win a title even more heavily on his shoulders, just as his competition in the East heats up. We’ll see how it goes. I still think Miami takes the series in seven, to fall to either Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the finals, but I’m hoping and praying for a Boston-San Antonio finals. …And just to bring up Simmons again, I just want to see the LeBron face again as his season ends again without a ring.

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~ by Benji on 3 June 2012.

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