Monday, June 09, 2008
Tonight's Celtics and the Ideal of Perfection
A rant and a rave about basketball as per Game Two:
First, the rant: basketball is such a simple game, people. Too simple. So simple, in fact, coaches and players try to overthink. When the game is at it's best-- like the last seven minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth for the C's-- all the players exploit the weaknesses of a team on the ropes. They attack. They feel the natural flow and they play. No other sport can duplicate this like basketball. This is why the game alternates between exceedingly perfect and horrifically unbearable. Doc Rivers went to his prevent defense (and the players actually ascribed to it) with seven minutes to go against the most dangerous player in the league. Why? Why not attack the rim and continue to beat this team down? Why allow Farmar to score? Why allow Kobe to get his groove? Why allow a team that is beaten a fucking inch-- much less the mile the Celtics gave away?
Not to drive the point home more than I should, but after Leon Powe's dunk and subsequent timeout, who in that place didn't know the Lakers were going to be pissed and come out with a purpose? It's the Finals. If I'm on the Celtics, the first thing out of my mouth is "Don't let up." I just say that over and over. I don't mention the score. I don't feel comfortable. I tell my fellow men that the most dangerous player in basketball is hurting and we want to bury him. I want him dead. I want his family dead. I want his entire lineage destroyed. Here. Tonight. His legacy should have the imprint of our balls on it right fucking now. Seriously.
Instead, the Celts decided to walk the ball up the floor, relax, try horrible lobs and back in/ fade away against guys susceptible to the drive all night. They decided to settle for bad fades with five left on the shot clock after NOT moving the ball. Then, when the energy level depleted and the momentum changed, the ball movement was moot. The deflections came, the panic came and the offense hung from the same ropes supporting the banners in the ceiling.
For a championship-caliber team, this one seems to hate winning. It's still up in the air, fellas. If it's hard to close with a 25 point lead, how hard will it be to do so in LA without the crowd, the calls and the camaraderie? This ain't baseball, and this is a team desperately searching for a closer and Paul Pierce needs help at the end of games.
Now, the raves:
Paul Pierce-- Jesus, even when he makes the big errors-- like the pass that opened up Radmonovich for the travel-dunk-- he makes up for them by blocking a game-altering three with little time left. HUGE PLAY.
Posey-- Nothing but hustle from a man that seemed lost in Detroit.
Rondo-- Inexplicably benched form time to time for man who can't dribble anymore, much less be trusted to run an effective offense, yet he comes in and makes plays when the game is on the line.
Ray Allen-- Shooting like a good shooter again, i.e. using shot selection. You don't have to jack up every open three-- if you aren't comfortable, pass the ball. I love that from him the last few games.
Team Defense-- This is why I love non-break basketball. I like the aforemetioned frustration in basketball-- when a defense (and not coaching) beats a team, it is BASKETBALL. The players decisions are winning and losing a game, not some outsider influence (refs, coaching, slow-down offense WITH SEVEN MINUTES LEFT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE). It's sport at it's peak. When the Celtics were outclassing the Lakers in the third, I got numerous texts and commentary from the guys in the same room saying the same thing: that was a perfect run. They did everything right. it was the purest form of ball-- a mix of athleticism, fundamentals (the SPACING ON THE FLOOR ON BOTH ENDS WAS PERFECT) and luck. It was the culmination of playing the right guys at the right time and not fucking with it. No one was complaining that it was a blowout or saying that the series is boring. They were excited that a team was making an entire quarter-plus look like a work of art. The defense did most of the work. it opened up the offense to operate on every level and allowed Leon Powe to finally get the minutes and attention he deserved.
Leon Powe-- "This was his national coming-out party." --Stan.
For people that understood his potential, Leon Powe delivered the perfect blow to this year's frustrations. With wins come mediocrity. Trust me on this one. When a season goes this well, the team looks away from what worked well and tries to get everyone in on the effort. Thus, this explains the fact that Glen Davis, for awhile, got more important minutes than Leon Powe. Powe deserves 15-20 a game relieving at the 3 and 4 spots and not for his off-the-court storyline. He deserves it because he can punish bench guys, small 3s and slow 4s in the same motion. Davis, and the cavalcade of bench dudes CANNOT. I like Big baby, but Powe is worlds above him. Maybe now, the basketball world gets that. Maybe Doc gets it too (and won't bench him for his lackluster play in the last few minutes like he did after the last five games of the regular season).
Eddie House-- I feel for him. Cassell is damn-near ruining this team in important stretches and he continues to hug and cheer and want. If I'm him, I hold my own press conference and just play tape of Cassell getting blocked by Vujacic (he of the constant complaining-- what a fucktoad). Then I say, "This is five minutes a quarter. Think about it," throw the mic into the feedback position and walk the fuck out with my cock on full display into the bay of cameras. instead, he continues to hug and cheer and want. Good on him. He's still helping.
Tonight, to be sure, the C's had it all, gave it away and then earned it back. That shit won't fly in LA. Not even to steal one. Pierce said they needed to learn a lesson from the fourth quarter. I hope they did, otherwise, they are coming back to Boston down 3-2 against the MVP. Not a good time. I just hope lessons learned translate well, instead of turning into the potential for disaster. Two more, fellas. Two more.
"Don't let up." In such a simple game, the quest for perfection is fleeting, but the ideal of basketball is not. Leon Powe showed us that in Game Two the same way Pierce did in Game One. So simple, to win. So very, very simple.