It's become very clear that the Celtics simply don't have enough left to win a championship (although I will still find some way to explain how they could if they win game 7). They are too hurt… too run down… too reliant on guys who should be getting 15-20 minutes per game, rather than 35-40. And despite some of the comments that this team is playing poorly and stupidly… they are playing on sheer guts. It's not that they're not hungry. They are. And they've got a scrap of food left… the championship they're trying to defend. Even when they seem out-gunned… their desire to defend that food keeps them fighting.
The Magic are not helping off Ray Allen, and it has thrown him into a funk. He's even rushing his open shots. They're also running two guys at Paul Pierce every chance he gets. He's being doubled teamed 30 feet from the rim. Yet we get on his case and wonder why he can't just take over. They're even setting Courtney Lee up inside Eddie House's jock so he can't go off. They're daring Rondo to shoot tear drops and last-second jumpers.
The Celtics offense is often coming from Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Brian Scalabrine… because the Celtics have no other options. Amazingly, Perk, Baby and Scal are hitting more shots than they should. But how far can this team go with those guys carrying the load?
Let's face it. Doc was spot on when he said Kevin Garnett is the Celtics run-stopper. How would last night's game had turned out if the Celtics could have turned to KG in the post, or on a pick and roll with Pierce or Ray, in the scoreless final 3:46? How many times would Rashard Lewis have changed his shot when he got into the lane? And what about having Leon Powe in there as yet another big man to push and hack Dwight Howard? The game, and the series, would be much different.
Luckily, the Celtics are facing a Magic team that has no clue how to win. The Celtics will probably take advantage of home court (and probably some home cookin') to win a series they should have lost in 5 or 6 games. They're undermanned and overworked, yet they continue to fight.
Don't get me wrong. I'm frustrated after last night too. That's a product of high expectations. We see that green and white out there and we EXPECT to win… to dominate… to close things out. And those high expectations breed emotional overreactions. That's natural. But step back and look at what we're doing… and who is doing it.
But this is no eulogy. I expect the C's to win game 7. And I'll figure out some argument for how they'll beat Cleveland. But they're doing it on heart. They're defending their scrap of food with everything they've got. You'll have to kill them to get it. And that should be admired.