Wow, 150 posts!
Let me start this off by thanking the Celtics. They gave us a wonderful playoff run where they played above and beyond expectations. They erased the frustrations of the latter two-thirds of the season. They took on the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant. They took the finals to seven games. They played as much basketball as they were capable of. And it was a blast to watch every second of it. That’s why when Game 7 ended, I was not devastated. I was thankful for the Celtics doing everything they possibly could to make sure our summer had more than just baseball in it (besides the World Cup).
As for Game 7 itself, the reason the Celtics lost is the same reason they lost games 1, 3, and 6. They couldn’t rebound and they fouled too much. The shooting went cold. And the Celtics just ran out of gas. In the end, I think every Celtic played as hard as they possibly could… and they came up just short. The Lakers were a little younger, they were a LOT longer, and they had too many role players. The Celtics were able to win against single-player teams like the Heat and the Cavaliers. Against the Magic they were more physical and exploited the Magic’s (i.e. Dwight Howard’s) inability to hit free throws. The problem is, none of those advantages came into play against the Lakers. They had two solid players in Kobe Bryant in Pau Gasol, and role players Ron Artest and Derek Fisher stepped up when the spotlight fell on them. The Lakers were just as physical as the Celtics, only they were longer. What were Celtics fouls were just Lakers blocks. And the Lakers were solid at the line. Everything the Celtics had in their favor fell by the wayside for the NBA Finals. So the Celtics were left to just scrap and try to hang with Lakers, and in the end they couldn’t.
We shouldn’t feel bad about this loss. The Lakers were a 1-seed with home-court advantage, and the Celtics were a 4-seed playing above and beyond what everyone thought they were capable of. This was not an upset by any stretch of the imagination. Add to that Perkins’ bad-luck injury in Game 6 (seriously, how ironic is it that Perk avoids the seventh technical foul for six games, only to injure himself and miss the seventh game anyway?), and you have a seven game loss. This series will go down as one of the quirkier of all time. No team had a single dominating game. No team ever built up a serious advantage. No team had the absolute edge. And no team held home-court perfectly. It was as unpredictable as it was exciting. As sports fan, it was all that we could ask for.
I’m a little bummed out because I think this was the Celtics’ last chance to win it all for a few years. The Big Three will start next year a year older. Paul Pierce will probably swing even more towards picking up offensive fouls on his herky-jerky drives instead of getting to the line. God knows what the condition of Kevin Garnett’s knees will be. And Ray Allen may not even be here. Add to that Perkins’ likelihood of starting the season on the disabled list, plus the possibility of a new coach, and you have all the makings of a “rebuilding year.” You can certainly build a team around Rajon Rondo, and a healthy Glen Davis for a whole season is an encouraging thought, but you’ll need more than that to win the whole thing. And the superstars are all going to go elsewhere come free agency. So next year will probably be a bit of an off year. That’s o.k. We’ll always have 2008, and to a lesser extent 2010.