Today at 3:30 pm, the Boston Celtics will not play the Cavaliers in a basketball game.
No… they will engage the Cavaliers in an epic battle for this franchise's HONOR! The Cavaliers are on the verge of stealing a jewel of this franchise's history… our coveted 40-1 home record. Today, the Celtics are White Knights on a mission to defend the history of the NBA's greatest franchise. It is a task so awesome, Doc Rivers is bringing in help to address the troops:
"I'll send Danny in to give them that speech…"
So God speed fair troops. Defend thy franchise's history with your lives. This truly is your most important task to date.
Ok, so I'm clearly being melodramatic. A win today will be nice, and I'm sure the Celtics would like to send a message. This isn't really about protecting "40-1" (although it would be nice to see the Celtics hold onto the record), this is about planting a tiny seed of doubt in the minds of the Cavs and their fans.
In fact, the Celtics are in a win-win situation. Lose in Cleveland, and people will let the Celtics slide for being like everyone else, and for losing without KG. Win in Cleveland, and the story line becomes "wow, they won there without KG… what will happen in the playoffs?"
But no matter what happens, a little too much will be made of the result. A Celtics win will prove they can win in Cleveland… but doesn't guarantee they will in the playoffs. A Cavs win proves they can defend home court… but doesn't guarantee they'll do it throughout the playoffs (or even against Philly to end the season). In the end, it's mostly fodder for the writers and talk shows.
The Celtics most certainly can win today. They can do it by going under screens and turning LeBron into a jump shooter. They can do it by attacking the middle of that Cavs defense and drawing some fouls on their bigs. The can do with an improved Stephon Marbury continuing the attack and hitting that mid-range jumper or kicking to Eddie House for 3.
But whatever happens, don't make too much of it. We know from last year that the playoffs are a different game… and it's hard to determine just how hard two teams who have locked up their playoff seeds will go today.
Herald: Celtics seek road less travelled | KG may return for season finale | A victim of Gang Green | Globe: Cavs find success with missing piece | Garnett aims for Wednesday return | Souza: Ray Allen evolving his game | Plain Dealer: The Q will be hoppin' | Cavs and C's don't lack motivation today