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Not Dead Yet

Posted By Michael Johnson On May 8 2011 @ 8:01 pm In Boston Celtics | 1 Comment

The inscrutable 2011 Boston Celtics will live to fight another day. After falling down 2-0 in the series thanks to Dwyane Wade and Lebron James, the Celtics rallied back last night claiming a 97-81 victory on their home turf. Led by two superstars of their own, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Boston staved off a 3-0 deficit in the series. This is especially important, since it’s a position no team has ever come back from.

The exultant crowd at the Garden showed their praise, specifically during the later stages of the 3rd quarter, as the C’s showed their grit and determination without catalyst Rajon Rondo. The Celtics point guard dislocated his elbow midway through the quarter, in what turned out to be a visually gruesome injury. The loss of Rondo brought about many long term questions for the fans, commentators, and analysts, but apparently not for the Celtics players themselves. In the midst of a 14-4 run when Rondo went down, the C’s didn’t seem to miss a beat in his absence. They finished the quarter strong and found themselves up by the 11 points before Rondo returned to start the 4th.

Once Rondo returned, that was when the real party started. Playing with one arm handling the ball and the other dangling by his side, the Celtics started the 4th with a 9-2 run, capped off by a Rondo steal and dunk. Celtics up 81-63. Though the Heat continued to battle back, they never got closer than 13 points. Ultimately the efforts of Rondo, Garnett, and Pierce proved to be too much. Pierce hit two major 3’s in the last two minutes, with the 2nd nearly 5 feet outside of the arc. Pierce finished with 27, 5, and 5 and Garnett posted a monstrous 28 and 18. Though the Celtics are still at a position of disadvantage, they proved that they belong in this series despite the incessant media speculation otherwise. For the first time in 4 games, the Celtics were able to able to severely hamper the “Big 2”, with James and Wade only going a combined 14-35 from the field. Bosh was a non-factor, and if he can continue to be just that, the odds of the Celtics winning are dramatically increased.

However, while the sweet taste of victory is still fresh, let us not forget how easily the Heat were able to manhandle us in games 1 and 2. James and Wade got whatever they wanted, and our offense shut down for alarmingly extended periods of time. Though the series’ are entirely unrelated, I can’t help but feel like our demise is irrevocably tied to that of the Lakers. Their troubles come directly at the point guard position and ours lie in the bigs department. Both teams are aging, and each also have struggling 2nd units. The Lakers have found themselves in a surprisingly dismal situation this postseason. After going to 6 games against the lowly 7-seeded Hornets, they were just swept today in the 2nd round by the Mavericks. Surely more was expected out of the two-time defending champs. The Lakers also struggled to stay afloat during the later stages of the regular season, something the Celtics have become extremely familiar with these past two years. How often can we expect these aging teams to keep making runs to the finals?

One thing is for certain. As time passes, each game will only get bigger and bigger. Just like game 3 was a must win, so is game 4. Falling into a 3-1 hole against 2 of the league’s top 3 players is not an option. Yet, unlike the Lakers, we still have hope. And despite one of our superstars only having the use of one arm, we are still right in the thick of things. If I were to expect any team to mentally erode over the course of the next couple of games, it would be the Lebron James led Miami Heat. So although it won’t be against our old foe, the LA Lakers, their lack of ability to perform under pressure should only act to incite the Celtics even more. There is still a long way to go, but this ain’t over yet!

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