I know it. You know it. The Celtics know it.
Tonight is a "Must Win." Forget that a loss will only make it 2-all series. Forget that we have home court. Forget all of that. The Celtics have left themselves no choice but to come out tonight, lay the hammer down, and win game 4. Because if they don't, then their "road woes" are going to be the only thing people want to talk about. It becomes self defeating. We can chalk up the Atlanta series to unexpected emotion, match ups, and underestimating the opponent. But a loss tonight turns over-hyped media storyline… into fact. Don't believe me? Paul Pierce's quote says it all
“We all need this win on the road, man. It’s like the gorilla on our backs – trying to get a road win. We’re going to play better basketball on the road from here on out, I can guarantee that.”
That quote alone does 2 things: Acknowledge that the "they can't win on the road" stuff is getting to them… and forces the Celtics to live up to his "guarantee." If they start out slow tonight, then Pierce is a liar… and the Celtics can be tossed into the "mentally soft" bin. That's what happens when you make promises. If you can't deliver… then everything gets worse.
All that said… I'm fully EXPECTING the Celtics to deliver. Yesterday's practice was a ball-buster. Pierce compared it to a training camp practice. Doc Rivers, for better or for worse, expects a team full of highly paid professionals to pull themselves up when they're down. I'm sure he expected a team full of guys who said they know they have to play harder… to actually play harder. Yesterday… he sent the message that not extending the effort in games… means they'll just have to go harder in practice. The players forced Doc to treat them like a college squad… and thankfully… he did. You can debate, if you want, if it happened too late. But at least it happened. Now… let's see if we get results.
Hey… if anyone can make sense of this Dan Shaughnessy piece… let me know. I talked to a few people about it… and the general sense is one of confusion. I guess that's pretty standard at this point, though.
Rondo's Blog: Game 4 | Herald: Celtics need to answer | Momentum? Advantage: Cavaliers | Celtics have lost their way on the road | Extra attention paid to LeBron backfires | Cavs feel underappreciated | Psychology of a 7 game series a test for teams | Globe: Posey has his backers | Rondo, Allen eye fresh starts | Stops have been a start for Cavs | Spurs, Jazz even series | T&G: Video wasn't pretty | Camerato: Keys to game 4 | Plain Dealer: Cavs need LeBron to be King of the Road to win | Ilgauskas in driver's seat | Ohio News Herald: LeBron good in this role too | SI: Potential Rules changes… and more
(That… if you can't tell by the ink… is Rajon Rondo. I know… holy crap! Photo: Boston Globe / Michael Vega)