I sit down to the Celtics-Heat Game 5 fully expecting the Celtics to be eliminated tonight. With the humiliation of the Lakers still fresh in my mind (because ESPN refuses to let it go), I figure “Well, as long as they keep it close and don’t unleash any cheap shots at the end, they will retain some sort of integrity.”
Apparently integrity consists of failing to execute down the stretch (your supposed strength) and letting your opponent carve you up and finish the game on a 16-0 run. Yay integrity!
Look at Shaq, there, sitting on the bench in his suit. It is reported that Shaq is upset because he feels like he let down his teammates and the city of Boston. Yup, sounds about right.
Inside Voice: "Does South Beach still have that Ben & Jerry's? And would it be open this late?"
Boy the Shaq saga has come a long way, hasn’t it? Remember the days when Celtics needed to bulk up in the middle to compete with teams like the Magic and the Lakers?
No worries. The REAL advantage this team has is at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo will carve up Mike Bibby, make him look silly.
Heck, Rondo couldn't even dominate Bibby when healthy, much less with one arm.
"Tis but a scratch." "A scratch? Your arm's off!"
Ok, so game time. Here are some ET live blog bits and pieces:
The crowd boos Rondo the first time he handles the ball. Apparently, they disapprove of him playing through injury and/or having the nerve to let Dwayne Wade injure him. One of the two.
3:55 left in the first - Jermaine O’Neal straight to the locker room for treatment for his back. I’m actually excited about the possibility of seeing Krstik, a not-over-the-hill-or-injured-beyond-repair Celtics big man.
1:57 – Shot of Rondo lying on the floor, looking downtrodden. I can almost hear him wondering forlornly "I wonder how the Thunder are doing...sigh...sniff." Did you just imply that a guy playing through a recently dislocated elbow is some sort of wuss-bag? Oh no you didn't.
9:10 remaining – Mike Miller misses a gimme then taps in his own miss. It’s the first field goal from a non-big-three player on the Heat since the late third quarter of game 4. Wow. Guess you DON’T need balance to win games...
Interview drop in: Doc Rivers discussing whether the Lakers are "done" or "too old"...he says "If they’re too old, how old are we?” And speaking of the Lakers, behold how to fully and masterfully take advantage of a Kobe Bryant impression:
Kobe Bryant, quote machine: "I think [my having a limited practice schedule because of off-season knee surgery] played a part in the fact that guys felt like they could take days off because I'm not there... And it's upsetting to me. They knew going in what my knee situation was, and we communicated that with them -- me not being able to practice and them having to pick up some of that responsibility in practice with the intensity and things of that nature...but at the same time, you can't use that as a crutch or an excuse, that because I wasn't out there, they didn't work as hard as they should."
Ah, just when you thought he wasn't a completely arrogant ass who can't keep things in the locker room where they belong. Oh wait, never thought that.
Back to the Game:
7:32 left in the second – Pierce nice move and lay up. This comes after two phenomenal D Wade plays. Reggie Miller says “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Really, Reggie? Way to lean on the vernacular there. How about "Anything you can do, I can do, but a little slower and not as good."
5:44 – Rondo one arm catch from Allen. One arm spin, one arm shot. Courageous. Not particularly dominating, but courageous. Hey Doc, could you take out Mr. Courageous and put in a healthy guy?
5:08 – Garnett and Wade get called for a double foul during a pick. Not sure what Wade did there, except take KGs elbow to his face. I do, however, know what KG did - piss off the best player on the floor. Bad idea.
3:44 – Rondo runs into James Jones with the bad arm. Looks like he's been shot with a bazooka. Or maybe I just like saying bazooka. And boobs. And Matlock.
3:23 – Rondo is not shooting...like at all. I agree with Reggie Miller that Rondo is hurting the team offensively.
Hilarious, telling slow-motion shot of Pierce’s "What the hell are you doing?" face when Rondo passes him the ball...before they even reach half court. Me thinks Pierce is getting sick of his point guard - one arm or no.
LeBron shoots a three on pierce, who has four fouls, instead of driving to the hoop. Basketball IQ: 2. Well, he hits it. So, basketball IQ goes up to 4. 54-52 Celtics.
8:12 – Allen hits a three while being fouled by Wade, 3rd foul. DVR step-by-step replay shows wade’s hand meets Allen’s hand after ball leaves. 4 point play. 58-52, Celtics. Ray Ray with 15 pts.
7:02 – In a phenomenal sequence showing how hurt Rondo really is, he squares to shoot twice with nobody within ten feet of him. Chooses to pass to pierce who bounces in a three. Celtics 63-57.
6:36 – James again takes a long jumper against Pierce, a defender with 4 fouls. Basketball IQ: 2. This time, he misses. IQ: 0. Apparently, basketball IQ not necessary to dominate when you're a dominating physical specimen. Know knew? The Heat, apparently.
Boston shooting 55% so far. And only up 6. Not a good sign.
5:10 – KG swats Howard, Bosh swats Pierce five seconds later. This is basketball! We’re not going down like the Lakers did! I mean, we’re going down, just not in quite the same manner as the Lakers did.
How about we just go with a canny visual depiction of the fourth quarter?
So the Heat won. And yeah, the Heat are saying all the right things. They're paying the Celtics some big time respect in the post-game conferences, and that's nice. But damn if they don't pepper their "all the right things" soundbytes with a lot of contrived BS here and there...
If I have to hear teenage coach Eric Spo say the phrase "It took a lot of time to develop our game" or "We've been through a lot of heartache" one more time, I'm going to scream. Hey, Eric - you know what "a lot of heartache" is to most players, teams, and coaches? Twenty years of frustration and defeat, not 6 games in January when you couldn't get your built-to-destroy-all-challengers-without-mercy team's shit together. But I guess hyperbole isn't limited to the Heat coach:
"Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to overreact to winning in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Amen."
Ok, LeBron, we know you wanted to beat them. But don't try to deflect the hatred people feel for you onto them. To come out and say that your inspiration to come together on the Heat was the Celtics? Really? If that was the case, why are you just saying it now? You had plenty of opportunity to give the Celtics props throughout the season...why come up with this now? I'll tell you why, because you didn't think of it until now. You were having a nice dinner with D Wade last week and you turned to him and said: "Hey, you know that whole issue about everyone hating us? What if we go with this angle?" Come on, LeBron. You won. Congrats. Just enjoy it. But don't now try to pretend that what you did is what the Celtics did. Seriously.
So for all of those Heat-haters out there, perhaps we can look forward to some sort of Post-Celtic "We did it!" let-down, but I doubt it. We may be in for a long summer of having to watch LeBron and D Wade hold up the Larry O'Brien trophy in the Sportscenter victory montage. Oy.
Did I crown the Heat before they even started the Eastern Conference Finals? Yes. Did I just jinx them? Hope so.