I know I've been dying for a story line… and finally… the schedule maker has given us one.
The Celtics start a stretch tonight of 5 games in 7 days. They go back-to-back with Detroit and Toronto tonight and tomorrow. They finish with a back-to-back against Denver and Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday. In the middle, the currently undefeated Atlanta Hawks.
So what can we expect?
Detroit: Allen Iverson put up 24 in his Piston's debut, and tonight he makes his home debut. He'll do what he does, but at the detriment of the team for now. That's to be expected. A new primary threat in a new system will need an adjustment period. I see the Celtics being pumped up for a big game and taking this one as Detroit struggles to find its identity.
Toronto: Tough team to face on the back end of consecutive games. But they're coming off a back-to-back too. The difference is they're playing Charlotte at 1pm. So they could be in Boston before the Celtics game is over. I don't think we're going undefeated in this stretch… so I'm going to chalk this one up as our loss.
Atlanta: They're playing well, but they're going to be tested with a big road trip. They're at Chicago the night before, and Wednesday night's game will be their 3rd in 4 nights, so I think they're going to run out of gas in this game. They'll probably come out with emotion, trying to prove something after losing to the C's in the playoffs last year. But the C's will absorb what the Hawks have to offer, and run away with it in the second half when the Hawks lose their legs.
Denver: They're going to go through a little of what Detroit is going through. And like the Hawks, they'll be coming into Boston to play their 3rd game in 4 nights… but they'll be doing it after playing LeBron and the Cavs the night before. Denver has never been known as a tough team… and Chauncy Billups hasn't been there long enough to change that. This feels like a blowout to me.
Milwaukee: There will probably be a let down in this game, but it will apply to both teams. Now BOTH teams will do the 3rd game in 4 nights thing. Both teams will have played the previous night somewhere other than Milwaukee. That's an equalizer. As tempting as it might be to predict a letdown and bad loss (a la Indiana) for the C's, Milwaukee isn't good enough to overcome those circumstances. This might be an ugly, 89-79 game… but the C's are just too good.
So I'm looking at 4-1 in this stretch. I'll be fine with 3-2. I don't think we're going 5-0.
Herald: Celtics get no cream puffs | Old rival still a pain | Globe: Early playoff preview? | Is he a long term Answer in Detroit? | DetNews: AI expects butterflies | Souza: Big Baby does the little things
And here's the only reason I haven't completely turned on the OKC Thunder franchise for the way they treated Seattle: a pair of fellow Emerson basketball alums are going to make that team good.