A week ago I was joking about panicking over losing to the Hawks. It wasn't a good joke. The Celtics probably will win on Sunday, but the magic of this season might have evaporated into the night air after this evening's game. I am bleary eyed and can only help but to be brief, but someone could easily write a tome about what has just occurred. Maybe then I could understand it. Safe to say, some (if not all) of our nightmares about this team have come into reality, and it would hurt more if it weren't all too absurd.
The Celtics choked tonight, plain and simple. As someone who usually waves off such talk as reactionary bullshit, you should know that I use the "c" word with discretion, and it definitely was appropriate for tonight. And in retrospect we now realize it was appropriate for Game 4 as well. We can complain about the officiating discrepancies and Glenn's end-of-game play calling, but we have to ultimately realize that the Celtics team we are seeing is nothing like the one of the regular season. At least on the road. And that is major, major cause for concern. Who is going to presently pick the Celtics to beat San Antonio? Or Detroit for that matter? Or maybe even Cleveland?
Yes, it's all up in the air after these three road losses to Atlanta. The more widespread implications, for both the future and the historical record, will have to be talked about at a later date. But the reality of tonight was that James Posey was the Celtics' best player in the fourth quarter. KG disappeared, as he infamously has been known to do. Ray Allen was shot happy - and not very accurate or intelligent. Paul Pierce was helplessly on the bench, probably the one antidote for the C's troubles, but unable to play. Rondo was ineffective; and Cassell too unsure of his role in the situation to take over....yeah, I don't want to go on.
It'd be nice to say these shortcomings can be fixed. And it's possible they will. But it is also exceedingly possible that this team is not ready to be a champion. As bad as the fourth quarter was, the Celtics should have been able to put the Hawks away earlier, like Cleveland and Detroit were just able to do against inferior teams. But Boston failed. It is something we did not see at all during the regular season. But we are seeing it now; and these playoffs are turning into a surreal finale to an unbelievable past year in Celtics history.