Boston Celtics fans can we talk truthfully for a moment?
The odds of the Celtics winning the NBA championship are not very sexy. Yes, they are probably still the biggest “threat” to the Miami Heat but Miami’s doesn’t fear Boston and neither does the rest of the Eastern Conference.
What is sad about the recent history in Boston is that they haven’t had a fully healthy playoff run since they won the championship in 2008. Each year since “Banner 17” they have had an injury to a starter that either had that player sidelined completely or hobbled as a shell of his former self.
Kevin Garnett’s knee 2009, Kendrick Perkins’ knee 2010, Rajon Rondo’s elbow 2011, and Avery Bradley’s shoulders 2012 all have left Boston short-handed when it mattered most. This year Rondo is again injured and is out with a torn ACL continuing a nightmare that is now half a decade old in tradition.
Each year, whether it’s old age or just bad luck, Boston find themselves robbed of real shot with their full complement of players. They have exited the playoffs in 4 consecutive gut wrenching seasons battered, bruised, disgusted and empty handed without the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
After the Celtics lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the hands of the Heat last year, Head Coach Doc Rivers said:
“I wish we could have had healthy runs. This team won a title. Got to another one, a Game 7, where they had a shot to win. Got to the Eastern Conference finals and one game away on the road. Banged up. So, I don’t know because of really Kevin’s injury (knee in 2009) I don’t know if we could have gotten more out of this group.”
Fans either shake their fists in disgust or bow their heads in despair wondering what if (insert player here) had been healthy each season. Still the Celtics press on defying the odds by competing when they should fold. Garnett has talked about how the Celtics have “grit and balls” and as over the top as statement may seem nobody disputes it. They rely on a thing called “Celtics Pride” which to them is a very real and almost tangible way of life. That pride, as powerful and real as it is to them, has yet to propel them to another championship although they have been close.
Injuries seem to be Boston’s cross to bear each season. They are asthmatics in a sprint marathon forever giving their best despite the worst circumstances and harsh reality of nature that is against them. But that is who they are and they inspire teams like the Heat who are still wary of them.
Miami respects the Celtics as the elders who have shown them the formula on how to win a championship but it doesn’t go further than that these days. It’s like a martial arts sensei who has taught a student all the tricks and now that student is the best in the profession with no signs of relenting. Not even for their elders.
It’s ironic that after the Celtics defeated the Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year a child yelled to LeBron James “Good game, good effort”. That quote became a joke and social media craze for two days in ridicule of the Heat. It’s ironic because good game, good effort could easily be Boston’s middle name.
The C’s always get an “A” effort…too bad it won’t also get them a championship.