The greatest players in any sport have it. The legendary players set the gold standard for it. The truly elite feed off of it and essentially NEED it to continue an extended run of dominance. It’s attitude. It’s the kind of attitude that cannot be swayed or changed regardless of the circumstances. If the Celtics have anything in their favor for their pursuit of banner 18, it’s undoubtedly their championship caliber attitude. But is that enough? Haven’t they been torched by the NBA’s elite?
With spring looming right around the corner, it’d be great if we could open their title contending window as easily as we open ours to let some fresh air in the house. We’ve heard the quotes all year from the players and Doc himself:
- Rasheed Wallace was as positive as ever following a humiliating 111-91 loss at home to the Memphis Grizzlies
- Rajon Rondo thinks the only team that can beat the Celtics, is the Celtics. Plus, he couldn’t care less “who we play in the Finals.”
- Doc reiterated his confidence during Thursday’s weekly WEEI interview. He essentially feels that seeding doesn’t matter and as long as his team is healthy, he loves their chances.
Those are just a handful of recent examples of how this team seems to be impervious to any semblance of adversity. At least mentally and emotionally. The fact of the matter is that they’ve been less than elite against the other viable championship caliber teams in the league. This is not news. But if you look a little closer you’ll find that they haven’t played that poorly overall. They just can’t seem to go the distance. If the Celtics open their statistical windows, here’s the type of chilling breeze they would expect to feel:
Some Notes from those games:
- The first game was the season opener
- First game vs. Orlando Jameer Nelson DNP (injured) also third game back from PED suspension for Rashard Lewis
- For the Christmas Day game: Paul Pierce DNP (knee surgery), held Orlando to 8 points in Q2
- 1/8/2010 – KG DNP (knee)
- 1/11/2010 – Second night of a back-to-back (at TOR day before 1PM), KG DNP (knee), Sheed DNP (foot)
- At home against Dallas: KG DNP (knee), C's had 3 days off prior to this game
- 1/28/2010 – RedsArmy.com Party Night, C's may have drank DURING Q4
- 1/28/2010 – Second night of back-to-back (at ORL night before)
- 1/31/2010 – Previous 2 games on road vs. ORL and ATL (third game in four days in three different cities), Kobe hit game winning jumper
- 2/7/2010 – Outscored 36-11 in Q3, first game of season with completely healthy roster
- 2/18/2010 – Kobe DNP (ankle)
- 2/21/2010 – Last game of 4-game post ASG west coast trip, Nuggets up by 18 after Q1
- 2/25/2010 – Outscored by 21 in Q4, Pierce DNP (thumb)
Amazingly the Celtics have played better than everyone thinks against the other contenders. The only team that issued a wire-to-wire onslaught was the Denver Nuggets. That’s not all that atypical for teams playing the final game of a long road trip on the opposite coast. So does all of this matter? Should we all just follow their collective elitist attitudes and judge them by their playoff performance?
For the most part, when you think of any champion from years past, you rarely recall their records against their contemporary contenders. Or their records on the second night of back-to-backs. Or their records when they play on CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN or TNT. The point is, the regular season can be used as a solid guide, but that’s about it. Remember, they owned Atlanta during the 2007-2008 regular season and we all know how that turned out. On the flipside of that argument: The Golden State Warriors were 3-0 against the Dallas Mavericks during the 2006-2007 regular season and went on to complete the biggest upset in NBA playoff history by defeating the Mavs in 6 games in the first round.
If all else fails, then maybe we should all listen to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy who doesn’t put any stock into the regular season/playoff translation. Too bad the NBA changed its playoff seeding rules a few years back. Otherwise the Celtics would be guaranteed to finish no lower than the third seed. Let’s just hope once the playoffs begin, the Celtics will: “RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!!!!!!”
Although a 3-0 road trip against Houston, Dallas and Utah would suffice quite nicely.