I mean, you had to feel it coming. I was walking into the Dodger game on Saturday when I saw a crowd standing around the Baseline Box Club, staring through the glass watching some of the plasma screens inside. The Lakers weren’t on until tomorrow. What was it? Someone throwing a no-hitter on the East coast? Nope. None of the above.
This was the Celtics getting jobbed at home on the heels of a rookie in his first playoff appearance. Turns out the Celtics are still interesting without Kevin Garnett. Bill Simmons was wrong, as I predicted. The NBA didn’t suffer at all from KG being out. The game was exciting. And the Celtics lost. Oh, how they lost.
It’s actually amazing how wrong Bill Simmons was. It became clear to me that the Celtics are the best story in the NBA now that KG is hurt. They are compelling because everyone seems to be incredibly excited for Celtics fans to return to wherever they were hiding before they bought KG. I think we’re all looking forward to the money he is owed the next few years. Simmons said it himself, those treads on KG’s tires are worn. Only you can’t go to Pep Boys and pick up two new knees. The warrior is down for the count.
I said the other day that “The Truth” was not going to set the Celtics free. This was all about KG and it always has been. Ray Allen isn’t enough. They needed KG’s defense. Not just his defense, but the defense he injected into his teammates. Love him or hate him, KG has a motor that has well-outlasted his tires. The guy lives for it. He gets in a crazy, crazy zone and presses on you until you break. “The Truth” missed a clutch free throw with 2.5 seconds left that probably ends the game. At home in the playoffs, it is A-B-C. Always Be Closing.
I wonder how Celtic fans feel now? The Lakers have their center back. They were not allowed to make excuses in the Finals last year, but neither should the Celtics this year. They may come back to beat the Bulls, though I doubt it. Even if they do, it doesn’t look good for the boys in green. What will they do with LeBron when they square off in the street? Glen Davis won’t do much. Neither will “The Truth”. Except maybe pretend to hurt himself or miss a key free throw.
Maybe the Celtics will come back and do something, make a run or defend their title. I’d be happy to eat my words. That’s the fun part about sports. The winner always deserves it. Always. Even with a buzzer beater from half court that seems “lucky”. Well, they were in a postion to get lucky. There is no “ten point shot” in basketball. So, I am not going to defend the Lakers getting beat up in the finals last year just because we had no center. Credit to the Celtics. By the same token, no one cares KG is hurt. We’re all thinking it is pretty funny to watch you guys realize the three-peat, or even the repeat, probably is not happening.
The NBA right now is about which will happen first. Will the Lakers get a few more while Kobe still has gas in the tank or will the obvious ascension of King James happen before Kobe returns to the top of the mountain. That’s all the media is thinking about. That’s all everyone outside of Boston is thinking about.
The Celtics’ 2008 Championship will be, like I said it would, a brief echo of the glory days. A chance for Boston fans to longingly remember what it felt like in the days of Bird and Parrish and Cousy and Russell. Like the Detroit Pistons, the Celtics lone 2000s title might end up being the trivia question people have trouble remembering when asked, who besides the Spurs and Lakers won a title that decade before the 2010s belonged to LeBron.
The Lakers are back. The King is coming. The Celtics have some ropes to get off of.