By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The fact that there is no more Celtics basketball for upwards of three to six months is tough enough to stomach. And for those Boston hoop fans brave enough to watch the upcoming NBA Finals, it’s going to cause even more indigestion.
Boston’s disappointing fall in the Eastern Conference Finals has put Celtics fans in an extreme predicament. They’re left rooting for either the Lakers or the Heat in the NBA Finals. Whether you plan on tuning in or not, someone has to win, which has created the ultimate lose-lose situation for those who bleed green.
Do you root for LeBron to win his fourth title and Anthony Davis his first? No, you can’t simply because of the laundry they adorn. Los Angeles is claiming to be going for the franchise’s 17th title, which would tie the Celtics for the most in NBA history, but there is a catch. Five of their 16 titles came when the Lakers called Minneapolis their home, and until recently, they never included them in the franchise’s total. It was only when they started to inch closer to Boston’s 16 NBA crowns (before the Celtics added No. 17 over the Lakers in 2008) that they started to conveniently incorporate those championships with the L.A. iteration of the Lakers.
That’s like claiming that your weird and distant cousin is your favorite relative only after they won the lottery. Seems a bit disingenuous if you ask us.
So the Lakers are out because they’re the Lakers. No matter if you still love watching Rondo do his thing, or Alex Caruso give balding white guys hope, or a bunch of other castoffs feeder-fish their way around LeBron, you just can’t root for a Lakers title in Boston. It’s against the law and you could be prosecuted.
The Heat are the lesser of two evils here, though rooting for a Pat Riley team isn’t much better. Riley was the man behind the Lakers when Boston and Los Angeles saved the NBA in the ’80s, and he’s never had many fans in the 617 area code. He’s got the appeal of a slimy used car salesman but with much better suits. His feud with Danny Ainge has been entertaining, and another Riley-constructed title team would give him even more smarm to send Boston’s way the next time the two teams meet.
Hoping for a Heat win doesn’t feel great, but at least if Miami wins, Celtics fans can rest their laurels on losing to the champs. And really, the Heat are a pretty good team and worthy of their spot in the Finals. Bam Adebayo is a stud in the making and one of the more likeable stars in the league. Jimmy Butler winning a ring after playing musical chairs the last few years is a nice storyline. And winning a title without LeBron — over LeBron — would be another nice addition to Erik Spoelstra’s impressive head coaching resume. Three championships is pretty good for a guy who started out as Miami’s video coordinator.
And seeing a five-seed beat the Lakers — touted as the greatest team to ever exist in competitive sports by some media entities — would be glorious. At least until you remember the Celtics lost to a five-seed with a trip to the Finals on the line.
Watching either team raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy down in Orlando isn’t going to be a pretty sight for Celtics fans. But a Lakers win — whether you consider it the franchise’s 17th or 12th — is a much more vomit-inducing outcome. So as much as it may pain you to say it, green teamers should be rooting for the Heat.
Or to put it in more relatable terms, which don’t physically require you to utter “Go Heat” as quietly as possible, just go with an old fallback: “Beat L.A.”