I am a sports optimist. It’s a blessing and a curse.
A blessing, because I can shrug off losing to the Nets. But a curse, because my optimism can blind me from seeing what’s really going on, and I end up feeling like a sucker when my team gets bounced in the playoffs.
Prime example: 2009-10 New England Patriots. I defended this team like it was family, overlooked its giant flaws and ended up looking like a fool with my pants on the ground. All season long I’d say things like, “Well, as long as we have Brady and Belichick, we have a legitimate shot at the title” and “This team knows how to win in the Playoffs”. I guarantee I wasn’t the only New Englander saying these things. It’s an easy mind set to fall into. As a fan base, we’ve been spoiled. We expect nothing but titles. So no matter how ugly things got, we defended our teams until the very, very bitter end.
This Celtics team is getting hard to defend, and not in the good way, like, “Paul Pierce doesn’t miss, he can’t be defended”. But rather, in the “This team just isn’t all that good” sort of way. Hurts me to say it, but I can feel the window closing. The Big Three experiment, despite the 2007 title, has not gone according to plan. The injury to Kevin Garnett has been the ultimate Worst Case Scenario (a sports optimist’s least favorite words) for Celtic fans. Besides the fact that KG’s injury derailed a sure thing title in ’08-09, the effects of the injury have lingered into this season. For sure, a hobbled KG is still better than no KG, but the intensity is just gone from this team. Vanished. What’s particularly painful is that the intensity was the one characteristic that made this team so great in ’07-08 and for most of ’08-09. A complete 48 minutes of focused ball. No defensive lapses, no offensive stalls. Just 48 minutes of intense basketball. Poof. Vanished.
The most aggravating thing about this season has easily been the level of play from night to night. Doesn’t matter if the Celtics are playing at home against the Griz, or away against the Lakers, they match their competitor’s level of play. Its great to be able to compete with the big dogs, like the Lakers, Cavs and Spurs. But you have to stomp the small fish teams like the Knicks, Nets, and Wizards. That hasn’t happened this season. Instead, Boston fans have been treated to close games every night regardless of whoever they are playing (of course this does not include this week’s trend where the C’s demolished the Pistons by 30+ on Monday, and made the Knicks look silly on Wednesday). While entertaining, it’s also agonizing, because you know this team is capable of so much more.
The Celtics are currently the third seed in the East. Playoffs are a lock. So despite all the injuries and questions surrounding this team, that old optimism starts to pop up and I’m thinking things like “veteran team” and “playoff experience”, and boom, I’m sucked right back in.
What ever it is,