I had a private conversation last night with someone who was forced to admit something that we should all know isn’t true anyway. Numbers don’t mean everything. That’s not to say numbers, in this case the advanced stats movement that has swept NBA journalism, aren’t important. They are. They say a lot. They tell us a great many things. But what these equations fail to take into account is what these Boston Celtics… YOUR…. Boston Celtics… … have in abundance. Heart. Or “grit and balls.” Whichever term you prefer. It’s all in the same category. It’s the immeasurable quality of the human soul. It’s the quality that makes men brave. It’s the quality that makes individuals go where they shouldn’t and emerge victorioius. It’s the quality that makes Han Solo say “never tell me the odds” and navigate into that asteroid field anyway. Ok… that last one was a fictional character. But still, it was cool and it applies. You want real quantification of heart over numbers? You want a real, hyperbolic reach that still sort of works? Our country was founded on the kind of stuff that exists in these Boston Celtics [pause for groans and people commenting before reading any further] I told you it was hyperbolic. Yet, it’s hyperbole with purpose. Becasue heading into the Revolutionary War, the British Empire was a juggernaut. An armada of ships. An infantry beyond compare. A global domination that STILL, to this day, is felt in sovereign nations (hey Canada, whose picture is still on some of your money?) Had John Hollinger and his disciples existed in the 1700′s, they’d have scrawled onto parchment the statistical improbability of a victory by the colonies. And they’d have been right to write what they wrote. They’d have correctly assessed, by every metric available, that British victory was a mere formality. The numbers would have been too overwhelming. The data… just too convincing. But the data never takes into account human nature. It never can, and it never will. It can never take into account the inner workings of the human mind that make certain impossibilities possible. Data can’t read a man’s thoughts. Data can’t read a man’s desires. Data can predict a man’s level of emotion in certain situations. Let me rein this in before I get really crazy here. I know full well I’m comparing a basketball game to the war that won us our independence as well as making assumptions about people who didn’t exist back then. I’m projecting. I get that. Back to the Celtics, who, by any measurable data available, should have been eliminated last night and most certainly by tomorrow. The Celtics, over the course of six months, have been terrible offensively. Horrendous offensively. People weren’t BS’ing you when they compared the Celtics offense to the Bobcats. THEY ACTUALLY WERE COMPARABLE TO THE BOBCATS. The Celtics core is a pair of 36 year-olds and an almost 35 year-old paired with a 26 year old trying to get them all off their rocking chairs long enough to jog a “fast” break every once in a while. But the Celtics core has something unquantifiable. They have a crazy motherf’er that can be so crazy that crazy people look at him and offer up a xanax with a Wild Turkey chaser. They have an elderly guy with a bad ankle that is so ridiculously obsessive that his brain power can will his body past the excruciating pain of bone spurs and conjure up enough muscle memory to squeeze juuuuuuuuuuust enough blood from this rock for a jump shot transfusion. They have a dude with so much, I hate to use the term, but, pure, unadulterated swagger, that he could oh-for-a-gazillion and he’d lay his next game check down to bet the next shot he takes would go in. You find me the formula that can quantify that. Don’t bother. It doesn’t exist, unless new math has suddenly allowed the use of scrotums as symbols. Because this team has balls in abundance. And that’s what makes this team so f’ing great. Because they could teeter on the edge of epic failure last night against a team that should wax them, and their 26 year-old who just made the dumbest play in playoff history can come back and make one of the smartest plays you’ll ever see before you figured out how how to abbreviate your “he ain’t so smart” tweet down to 140 characters. Because Mickael-freakin’-Pietrus can suck harder than a Dyson for enough of the game for you to beg for Sasha Pavlovic, and then turn around and hit THE… BIGGEST… SHOTS… of the game. Because Paul Pierce can miss most of everything took but still look the biggest, baddest, freak of nature this gorgeous sport has ever seen right in the eye and stick the worst possible shot short of a half court heave perfectly through the rim….and turn around and just marvel at himself as he did it. “I’m cold blooded.” Will Hunting couldn’t scribble an equation on Harvard’s chalkboards during a late-night janitorial shift that ended with the answer “I’m cold blooded.” This “thing” the 2011-12 Celtics have… this is what Hollywood dreams of. It’s why Braveheart exists. It’s why 300 exists. Because man has, does, and will again triumph in the face of statistical impossibilities. Because man, with things we call heart and soul, can look at the odds, spit on the ground, and walk towards that adversity without regard for what might happen 99% of the time. Because 1% of the time is all you need to be the legend. Because 1% of the time is all you need to prove everyone wrong. Because 1% of the time, you can thumb your nose at what happens 99% of the time and defy it all… and be… Great. And that’s what this team is. With flaws, and warts and mind-boggling inconsistency… this team is still great. No matter what happens from here. No matter what happens tomorrow, or Saturday or beyond. This team is great. Numbers be damned.