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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night, and we know what you’re thinking.
“Whoopity Doo” or something else sarcastic likely crossed your mind when it came to celebrating a victory over the Detroit Pistons, just 25-51 on the season — with two of those wins against Boston, and at least locking up the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
And why should fans be excited? The 39-36 Celtics have put together a few stretches of success, but that’s all they were: short win streaks that were followed by more inconsistent play on each end of the floor. For every five-game win streak Boston had this season, they would just as easily lose five straight. As inspired and hungry as they looked during those winning stretches, they looked just as lost and lackadaisical during the slumps.
Jason Terry still hasn’t found his touch (though it’s getting a little better), injuries have torn any hope of beating the Heat from our minds, and we’re left to watch Jordan Crawford make everyone miss even the most frustrating antics of Ricky Davis on a nightly basis.
In fact, the only thing the Celtics were truly consistent at this season was being frustratingly inconsistent. They’d get up for big games, only to lie down against lesser opponents – seemingly staying unemotional about it all minus a few tongue lashings from Doc Rivers.
But as we’ve learned the last few years with these aging Celtics, the regular season means very little. Now it’s time to flip that proverbial switch and treat us to a little playoff excitement.
But in the end, is it really worth it?
The best case scenario is the C’s will lock up the seventh seed and get a first round matchup with the New York Knicks (winners of 10 straight) or Indiana Pacers (who the C’s are 2-0 against this season). Kevin Garnett will return after his two-week break and be his normal, energetic playoff self and the C’s will be whole again — or as whole as a team can be without their starting point guard – ready to try to stun one of those two teams hoping for their chance to knock off the Heat.
Despite the injuries they’ve suffered throughout the season, the Celtics could beat either of those two teams in a seven game series. Doing so would allow them to face the other in the Eastern Conference semis instead of a second-round matchup with the Heat. It would, again, likely be another hard-fought seven game series, but in all honesty, just more wear and tear that would leave them next to helpless against LeBron James and company in the Eastern finals.
The Celtics are not getting by the Heat this season – and likely no one will. They could easily go home empty-handed, losing that first round series against New York or Indiana, and in the worst case scenario, it’ll be the Heat in the first round, making for an early off-season that will once again be filled with retirement/blow it up-type questions Celtics fans have become accustomed to.
That, and we still have to watch Jordan Crawford take the court each game. So, is it really worth it?
Most will say no, a few will say yes. I’ll take my seat in the minority and wait patiently over the next two weeks, partially ignoring evening nap-inducing matchups against the Cavaliers, Wizards and Raptors, in hopes Boston shapes up heading into the playoffs and does get that first-round meeting with the Knicks or Pacers they’re counting on to give them their best chance to extend the 2013 campaign.
But why, even when the outcome is all but written on the wall, would a fruitless playoff exit excite anyone?
Simply because the Celtics will fight and claw to that finish. That hunger and battle- mentality returns when the second season gets underway, and the Celtics know what’s at stake. As has been the case the last two, three, even four years, this could be it for the Celtics as we know them. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s days of fighting side by side could be over when the Celtics walk off the floor – whichever floor that may be.
Doc Rivers will be back, but after that pretty much everything is up in the air. Garnett could retire, Pierce can opt out, and who knows if Danny Ainge is content with Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green as his franchise cornerstones moving forward. Those questions will have to be addressed, but we can wait for the summer to start thinking of “what’s next?”
For now, as uninspiring as they’ve been during the regular season, get ready for another playoff run by this current Celtics squad. It could be over soon, or it could stretch out to another Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Heat. It could be ugly, but it could be a lot of fun.
And it may very well be the last playoff run we get for a while. For that reason, enjoy it while it lasts.
Follow Matt Geagan on Twitter @MattyGWBZ