Saturday, June 9, 2012

There Is No (Real) Pressure In Tonight's Celtics - Heat Game 7

Tonight in Miami, the Celtics come to town and will, one way or another, change everything.

Every Game 7 does this, of course, and it's one of the charmingly self-absorbed things about Celtic Fan, in that only his roster is going to be at risk for being broken up at any minute, so you best watch every second of it and just memorize it all because after this moment, there's never ever ever another.

When all this time, of course, Blazer Fan should have been doing that with Greg Oden, or Laker Fan with Lamar Odom, or, most tellingly...

Bulls Fan with Derrick Rose.

You see, Celtic Fan wins so much, so often, so routinely, and with so much media soft service that they know the movie will always be Epic. Either it's a parade or pouring salt on the earth, a shuffling of the all-time ranks because they are the only people qualified (or, frankly, so uninterested in watching the present game unless it results in victory for their laundry; watch how the Boston area will plummet on the ratings for a wildly compelling LeBron-Durant Finals) to do so.

Whereas, for nine of the past 11 years for my laundry, the season just ends and there are no Lessons Learned, no Secrets Unlocked, no Transcendent Moments or Drama Rama Rama. An ending like what happened to Bulls Fan happened once, 30 years ago with Len Bias, and they are still dreaming of how, but for this single moment, Larry Bird would have won championships into his 40s from fresh wheels, and bridged the gap so that Michael Jordan never happens. Or something.

The far greater drama, if you care about such things, is on the other side of the court, where the home team is back to Has To Win Mode, and expected to do just that with ease. Simply because they got a for-the-ages effort from their best player in Game Six, simply because they are on a home court that offered them no protection in Game Five, simply because the Celtics might be pulling one of their possum / manufactured drama moments now.

Every team in the NBA is a moment away from exploding. Every team has irreparable talent that is at risk for injury, shocking, life and career altering injury. Every team is capable of a cold streak or inept play that sends all momentum away for good.

Ask the Spurs. Ten days ago, they were an unstoppable machine, one of the best teams in recent history, as safe as houses with the best point guard in the land, the all-time power forward, a bench that went forever and a shooting guard that couldn't be stopped. Now, they get to endure people lobbying for the PF to retire, questioning whether the backcourt can stay healthy, and whether the failure of the bench to show up in the last four games is proof that they are deficient of character along with talent. Fun times.

My guess is that in two weeks, it's not really going to matter that much who wins this Game Seven. The Thunder should be able to play at a higher level, use their bigs to achieve a tactical advantage over either survivor, pay off their rest and youth at the end of a meat grinder of a year, and when all else fails, let Durant carry them the last mile. Then, the story will be of how the Celtics finally ran out of gas, smoke and mirrors, or how the refs did them because Boston Fan can just never ever catch that break. If it's the Heat. it's the same stories they've endured for the past two series, just written to completion when they get closed.

The only way tonight's game matters is if the winner takes the crown. I don't think that happens, but I also didn't think this would go 7, or that the Spurs would lose. So.

Because that's the thing about the Heat, and the way they sired this era: only championships will matter. And the same is true for the Celtics.

So tonight's game is the championship of each other, and that should be enough really. But it won't be. The storyline of how the team is rebuilding and reloading, the inevitable coach speculation, the shifting of bench parts, the questioning of whether the core can be kept together...

One team gets to do it on Sunday.

And the other gets to do it in two to three weeks.

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