NBA Playoffs: You Can’t Always Get What You Want… At Least Right Now

By now, you’ve probably watched the Kevin Garnett swearing video about 100 times and giggled about it with your friends.

What’s that? There are a lot of KG swearing videos? You need me to clarify?

I mean the latest one. The Kevin (oooo-weeeee that’s a bad word) Durant video. Hell, here it is one more time (via Daily Thunder). Remember, there’s a bad word in this video so you don’t want to play it in a place that gives you a paycheck for reading this site when your boss isn’t looking.

I know, I know. It’s hilarious isn’t it? Kevin Garnett, who used to be beloved and respected before he went to a big market and kicked the tar out of your favorite team, is pissed at the refs. He’s complaining. I get the irony that a big market team is complaining about the refs. The beauty of it is that the refs weren’t even that bad. Did Durant get some questionable calls? Possibly. I’m sure most of them were legit just like all of the other calls in the NBA.

What you see here is a frustrated, fading Boston Celtics team figuring out their actual place in the NBA. They’re not title contenders. They know they’re not title contenders. I mean, they don’t really know it but I think deep down they suspect it’s just not going to happen. They’ve been there before and accomplished it against a really good Lakers team. They know how good you have to be to win a title. And it isn’t there this year.

Garnett isn’t healthy enough and even if he’s around 90%, he’s become too old or too rusty or just plain not good enough. He hasn’t had to carry a team in three years. He used to be able to put up insane numbers like it was just something you did. Even if he had been completely healthy over the past two seasons, I don’t know that he’d be able to still carry a team like that now. He’s been out of practice with it for so long that the ability just isn’t strong enough to carry out a feat like that.

Throw in the fact that Paul Pierce moves like Bill Murray taking baby steps to the elevator, Ray Allen is busy listening to random music with green fog surrounding him and the Celtics bench is about as deep as any of the people on The Real World: Washington DC and you’re left with a big problem. Rasheed Wallace is a punch line, people are still trying to figure out exactly what Marquis Daniels does for a living and Michael Finley basically needs a Hoveround to get from the locker room to the court.

This team used to be mean. This team used to be deep enough to throw an impregnable defense at you with timely offense sprinkled around it. This team used to break you down physically and mentally until the point of frustration and then squeak out victories on their way to hoisting up a trophy. Now, they’re the frustrated ones. They’re complaining about a 21-year old getting calls on their home floor instead of just shutting him down. Hell, they could play him 100 times and not shut him down once. It has more to do with their inability and lack of pieces to accomplish this rather than Durant’s ability to trick the newest fan base in the NBA into foolishly throwing the Jordan name around as some sort of synonym.

But as bad as this team supposedly is, it’s sort of absurd that people think they’ll lose in the first round of the playoffs. Look, I know that you all HATE Boston because the media blah blah blah and Kevin Garnett blah blah blah and Curt Schilling yatti yatti yatta. That’s fine. I understand people taking great enjoyment in the demise of the Boston Celtics. I mean I don’t because to me, I’d like a team to be at full strength and near their peak if my team is going to beat them. It means more and gives the opposing fans nothing for excuses. However, I sort of see why you’d like to feast on an irrevocably vulnerable Celtics team.

The problem is people are foolish enough to actually believe the Celtics aren’t going to make it past the first round. It’s fine if you want to believe in fairy tales and believe that Cinderella is ALWAYS going to wear the glass slipper at the end of March Madness. It’s fine if you want to believe the Easter Bunny will be here in a few days. But don’t trick yourself into thinking this Celtics team can’t win a seven-game series against a team that isn’t Top 12 in the NBA or possessing home court advantage in the first round.

Would we all love for Dwyane Wade to start his campaign to entice another big name free agent to South Beach this summer with an upset victory that vaults his team into the second round of the playoffs? Sure. We’d also love to see a young team of role players and virtual nobodies go out and embody the spirit of their coach as they win with defense and playing within themselves. We’d also love to see Larry Brown not only take the Bobcats to their first playoff series in franchise history but turn the world on its head as they march into the second round. And we’d all love for Toronto to do whatever the hell it has to do to salvage a working relationship with Chris Bosh.

But none of that is going to happen. Maybe if we still had five-game opening series, I’d believe it to be possible. Unfortunately, we don’t.

The Celtics still have arguably the best defense in the league right now. Their defensive efficiency is first (102.4), they force teams into a lot of turnovers (17.4 turnover rate is second) and they don’t allow teams to make shots (7th best defensive eFG% at 48.3%). They win at home (seventh best home record) and on the road (second best home record). They turn their games into free throw shooting contests and with the big market bias that everybody loves to complain about, that strategy seems to favor them.

I know the Bobcats, Heat or Bucks could beat the Celtics in theory. But application is so much harder in the NBA. The Celtics can’t win series against the Cavaliers and Magic. It looks like the Hawks finally have their number too. But a lower seed without homecourt advantage just doesn’t seem likely to occur in this NBA climate. Can the Bobcats and Bucks score enough to actually knock off the Celtics? Can Jermaine O’Neal’s knee be duct-taped enough together to provide a defensive safety valve for seven grueling games? We don’t even need to ask the question about the Raptors defense because even the people most against Celtic green wouldn’t consider Toronto winning that series.

The Celtics are vulnerable but it’s a different tier of vulnerable than everybody wants. They’re vulnerable to the top dogs in the NBA. They’re not vulnerable enough to the playoff hopefuls. Aside from Toronto, I’d almost guarantee any first round series the Celtics have will end in seven games. And those seven games are going to be exhausting for this fading power.

For now, enjoy the decline of the brief Celtics Empire. Watch the KG video above time and time again. Laugh at how the Celtics’ forced pride is diluting their sense of reality. But don’t trick yourself into thinking they won’t move onto the second round of the playoffs this season.

They won’t exactly be facing Kevin (aggressive expletive) Durant.

Seth Carstens