BOSTON (CBS) – Someone you know texted me before the Utah game Wednesday.
“It’s a must lose game” was the gist of his message. It was a common refrain I’ve been hearing from friends, talk show hosts and both over these opening weeks.
I won’t give away who it was.
Sure I will, why not? It was Tony Mazz. Hell, he said it all day on his show. And he’s not alone.
We’ve got another six months of this, so I thought maybe we ought to take a shot at nipping this thing in the bud. You know, before it starts to snowball.
We’re not supposed to use this year’s four-letter word. But everyone else is, so I will too.
Is this Celtics season going to be easy? No. Is it going to be fun? A lot more than you think, but not always. Look, it’s like having kids. People always say if you don’t have kids, you can’t possibly know what it’s like, just how hard it is. But you kind of do. It’s really hard, you’ll never sleep again, etc. Intellectually you know what’s coming. But when it’s real? When you’re in the middle of it, it? Damn right it’s hard. And when it comes to the inevitable difficulties of this facing this team?
We’re in the middle of it.
Roster turnover, a lot of actual turnovers and yes, the first 0-4 Celtics start since before I was born, likely most of you as well.
So what’s the plan? Fast-forward to April? Turn the channel to the CMAs, “Law and Order” reruns, get lost in Netflix?
We’re in week two of the NBA season. Two. Those that think they know, said Phoenix, Philadelphia, Orlando and yes, even the Celtics, shouldn’t have bothered showing up anywhere but Secaucus next May.
What’s happened in real life already?
The Sixers won their first three, beating the Heat and Bulls in the process. The Celtics, who are second in the NBA in scoring defense, and have a scoring differential better than nine teams in the league (including Chicago, Memphis and the Lakers), go into Orlando on Friday night where the Magic have won three straight against projected playoff teams New Orleans, Brooklyn and the LA Clippers.
My point? Gang, it’s early November. We don’t know one-tenth of what we think we know. Not one-tenth.
And we can watch it play out for real, or spend the winter running computer simulations of next year’s draft and giving in to the noise that says when your team is in a battle, when they’ve fought with a disadvantaged roster to give themselves a chance to steal a right game, that you should give in to the noise to root against them? Really?
Remember the first time you played fantasy — baseball, football, whatever — and one of your player’s success was in direct conflict with your real life team’s? It created that uncomfortable, queasy kind of stress in your stomach, that “what should I be rooting for” sports ambivalence?
Well, that’s what happening now. And I’m just trying to head it off and speak for the voiceless in all of this. Speak for Celtics fans (or Magic fans, or Suns fans, etc.), that don’t want to root against their team because, I mean, what fun is that? That’s not what you signed up for.
And please, don’t make me do the geek math, the kind that explains the microscopic chances in the odds of the draft lottery by winning a game or two here and there.
Listen, this is your team, and your league, and my God. Enjoy it any way you want. But Danny’s job is to prepare for next year’s draft, keeping an eye on upgrades along the way. Brad’s job is to have the team ready to play and play hard. (Which you may or may not have noticed, he has … the Celtics have trailed with 7:00 to play just once in the first five, and that was a 4-point deficit at Detroit).
And Max and I are going to do what we do, tell the story of the 2013-14 Celtics … on the floor. Kelly Olynyk’s first NBA steps, Jared Sullinger morphing into beast-mode on the box, Brandon Bass adding to his offensive repertoire, and the countless other stories.
And like it or not, there are going to be some wins along the way. Fun, memorable, Garden-rocking, upset kind of wins.
No ambivalence required.
Let’s celebrate the game, not losses. Enjoy the present. The future will shape itself, believe me.
Seven years ago, we spent the year talking about Ping-Pong balls. A year later, I was playing Ping-Pong with Ray Allen at the team hotel after the Celtics had taken a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
We don’t know one-tenth of what we think we know.
That much… I know.
Fun With Numbers
• The Clippers dropped 137 points on Dwight Howard and the Rockets on Monday night, in Doc Rivers’ fourth game as L.A.’s coach. If that made you scratch your head wondering when that ever happened for Doc in Boston, well, stop scratching. Doc coached the Celtics for nine years and 828 games including playoffs. Eight-hundred and twenty-eight games. In that time the Celtics scored 137 points…exactly never.
CELTICS SCORING – DOC RIVERS ERA
134 – @ L.A. CLIPPERS – DECEMBER 13, 2004
131 – VS. L.A. LAKERS – JUNE 17, 2008
128 – @ MEMPHIS – JANUARY 5, 2007
128 – @ PHOENIX – FEBRUARY 22, 2009
127 – @ CHICAGO – APRIL 30, 2009
126 – VS. CHICAGO – DECEMBER 19, 2008
124 – @ PHILADELPHIA – JANUARY 13, 2006 (L)
124 – @ TORONTO – APRIL 4, 2006
124 – VS. MINNESOTA – MARCH 4, 2007
124 – VS. NEW YORK – DECEMBER 21, 2008
124 – VS. DALLAS – JANUARY 25, 2009
123 – @ NEW YORK – MARCH 29, 2006
• Doc’s Celtics last year by the way, took just 11 leads of 22 of more in 82 games. This Celtics team has already done it twice in the first five.
• The Celtics held their 25-point lead, beating the Jazz on Wednesday. They were not as fortunate in the home opener last Friday. Milwaukee’s big fourth quarter gave them the first win for a visiting team at the Garden after trailing by 20 in nearly 10 years. You have to go back to December 5, 2003, when the Celtics blew a 29-point lead to Stephon Marbury and the Phoenix Suns. Funny thing about that weekend? A brutal snowstorm blew through Boston that night, and the Celtics spent the next day at the airport, unable to fly out to Denver. They reconvened at the airport the following day, and made the 1,800-mile flight on the afternoon of the game. They not only beat the Nuggets that night, they played a back-to-back at Utah the next night, and won by 22. (See interesting things can and will happen to sub .500 teams)
• This is my 13th year with the Celtics, that’s about 1,000 regular season games. Vitor Faverani played his second NBA game last Friday, and put up some eye-popping rebounding numbers. How rare was Vitor’s 18-board game? It was just the 12th time it’s happened those 1,000 games:
MOST REBOUNDS – (2001-14)
22 – JEFFERSON @ DETROIT – JANUARY 13, 2007
21 – BLOUNT VS. ORLANDO – MARCH 1, 2004
20 – GARNETT VS. WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 2, 2007
20 – PERKINS VS. DETROIT – MARCH 5, 2008
20 – GARNETT @ INDIANA – DECEMBER 7, 2008
19 – PIERCE VS. OKLAHOMA CITY – NOVEMBER 1, 2006
19 – GARNETT VS. ATLANTA – NOVEMBER 9, 2007
19 – PERKINS VS. PHILADELPHIA – NOVEMBER 30, 2005
18 – WALKER VS. INDIANA – NOVEMBER 14, 2001
18 – JEFFERSON @ NEW JERSEY – MARCH 3, 2007
18 – GARNETT VS. DENVER – FEBRUARY 10, 2013
18 – FAVERANI VS. MILWAUKEE – NOVEMBER 1, 2013
Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. You can hear the 2013-14 Boston Celtics on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the new radio home of the Celtics!