It's time. The 2011 NBA Playoffs have arrived for the Boston Celtics and so begins the official journey to determine if this season truly is "All About 18." Ever since the devastating Game 7 loss last June at the hands of the hated LA Lakers, the team has coined the popular phrase. It makes sense in a lot of ways because this could certainly be the final run for this special group of players. So let's take it up a notch or 18, and add this to the mantra: BURN THE BOATS!
At this point you're probably asking WTF is he talking about? A little history lesson for eveyone (although I was never a huge history buff, so if any historians out there are reading this feel free to rip me to shreds and laugh). In 1546 the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes set out to take down the Aztec Empire. Not only did Cortes want to make sure that he destroyed it, but he wanted to prove to his men how serious he was by burning his entire fleet of ships to show them that there was no turning back. No point of return. It's all or nothing.
Of course, accounts of this have been disputed but I'm going with the legend of it and using it for this Celtics team. No, I'm not saying that they should torch every stadium they play in, (that would not be beneficial to the NBA) rather take that approach of truly leaving it all on the floor. Let's face reality: the key cogs in this machine, while most in amazing shape for their average ages, are closer to the finish line than they are in the starting blocks of a sprint.
The evidence has been clear the past two seasons. Doc Rivers has had to use special tactics just to preserve a chance to make a run because the regular season is brutally long for older players, even the elite ones. Sure "The Trade" was, and still very much is, the size of a horse pill to swallow. But as fans, we can all keep blaming the trade for every missed defensive assignment, every missed chance to plow an opposing player to the ground, every missed rebound or every non-scowling face on the team. Or, we can ride with this team for what is likely one final run and take the "no looking back" approach.
The Celtics should view the entire league, especially the Lakers should they get the great opportunity to face them once more, as the Aztec Empire and set out to conquer it one final time. The regular season is over. The excuses are over. There are no back-to-backs. There is no Kendrick Perkins. They are about as healthy as you could truly hope for entering a run at Banner 18. There's only one thing left to do: "BURN THE BOATS!!!!"