Want and Need

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Why do people continually write off this Boston Celtics team? I don’t understand what the rush is to cast them as has-beens when they can still compete at the highest level.

Granted, their best isn’t as good as Cleveland’s or the Laker’s or Orlando’s best, but it is still pretty good. When Rajon Rondo, who I struggled with calling Boston’s best player only months ago only out of respect to what I thought Paul Pierce had left in the tank but is clearly the best now, puts up historic statistics it is hard/impossible to beat the Celtics. Boston goes as Rondo goes. It is the same concept as the Cavaliers with LeBron, only their is slightly more room for error in Boston.

Rondo is incredible, especially when it comes to the playoffs. His game elevates, same with Derrick Rose and apparently Brandon Jennings (still TBD, see you next year young Buck), when the calender shows playoff time.

Rondo operates this team more than smoothly. He dictates the flow, shot selection, and the transition game. Without him in the game the offense looks perfunctory, which is why they probably wont win anything this season. They need him on the court, which is why he played 47 minutes yesterday when all other Celtic players got 10-20 minutes of rest. That, and the foul trouble both sides were experiencing, more so for Boston.

The “Big Three” know that they can’t win if Rondo plays poorly, they don’t have enough left to carry this team for more than a game or two. Paul Pierce has gone Milk-Carton missing this series, and Perkins has done everything in his power to negate Shaq (effectively I might add). Ray Allen hasn’t found the constant stroke that plagued Miami, but Cleveland has put focused defenders on Ray and didn’t think it was a good idea to let a player slack off and rest for offense (Dwyane Wade maybe?). Garnett has shown he can still dominate Jamison despite a hobbled leg and now more injuries to his lower limbs.

Rasheed Wallace was paid $18 million for 3 years for his performance in game 2. That is what he can bring, which is why his play is so frustrating. That, and the fact that he might work his way into game shape if the Celtics make the Finals. Tony Allen has played well this series, I can’t really explain why. Glen Davis is Glen Davis, stocky, bothersome, and hustling.

Other than that, Rondo is the reason that this series is tied. And really, the Cavaliers are lucky that they aren’t down 3-1, which would be entirely plausible is Mo Williams didn’t morph into regular season Mo Williams in game 1 to rescue the Cavaliers. Rondo makes the standard plays look incredible and the incredible plays look standard. He pulls out every trick that he has to bewilder, frustrate, and fluster opponents.

Anthony Parker has no chance at thwarting Rondo, despite what game 3 would indicate. Williams and West, who are quick in their own right, seem slow in comparison.

Boston was one of four or five teams that, in the beginning of the season, were thought capable of winning it all. Those teams were Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Orlando, and maybe San Antonio. Dallas snuck in after the trade deadline and Phoenix has been a pleasant anomaly.

Which may lead to a nice segue into Cleveland, which has been understated by their performances. They truly are better than they are playing, which has been the case since they got healthy again and after they traded for Jamison.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Game 3 showed just how good this Cleveland team can be, and game 4 shows why many think they wont make it to the Finals. Teams that desire to win a championship don’t have a game where desire and effort are questioned. LeBron looks at times passive, which seems unrealistic. This is possibly the best driver of the basketball the league has ever seen, yet he appears to be waiting for the game to come to him. That isn’t what makes the Cavaliers so dynamic, they need LeBron to create for his teammates.

Mike Brown has received a lot of criticism for Cleveland’s play, some of it deserved but much of it unfair. After game 4 there were cries for Z to get onto the floor, which makes no sense. Does he spread the floor? I suppose, but he hasn’t played well all season and to think he will turn it on in the playoffs is a little foolhardy. He provides no defense that Varejao or Shaq can’t provide and he isn’t going to keep Davis from racing up the court.

Mo Williams rotation has been criticized, which makes sense. Why he sits out for some stretches and not others is perplexing, but he is ineffective against Rondo, offensively and defensively. Delonte West has played well in spurts, but constant production isn’t in his wheelhouse. Varejao has been in a funk all postseason. JJ finally gets playing time but the Celtics have discovered he doesn’t have the touch from outside yet.

Anthony Parker hasn’t shot the ball well in a long time, only made more obvious during these close contests. Jamison has played okay, nothing spectacular, especially in this series. The bench isn’t giving as much production as it logically should. Cleveland is one of the two deepest teams in the league, yet they are forced to rely on the starting 5, which isn’t that reliable.

To think that Cleveland was going to just march through Boston was a bit far-fetched. The Franchise and I have thought that this series was destined to go at least 6, if not 7. The Celtics are proving their worth in this series. The outcomes of these games are not surprising, especially if you watch the game. Whichever team is hustling and getting the 50-50 balls in that game has won. Game 1 may have been split if any, as Boston was a superior team for much of that game.

Cleveland is the better team with the better player, so they should and I presume will win this series. But if they continue to play without constant aggression it logical that Orlando, who has played the best of any team since April, will defeat them.

This isn’t a question of heart, both teams have it. This has really been about Cleveland wanting to win in most games and needing to win game 3. Boston has needed to win every game. They are more aware of their mortality than Cleveland. The Cavaliers assume Conference Finals at this point. Cleveland knows how good they are, which has been part of the “problem” with them for a few months now.

Ever since LeBron carried the team without Mo and Delonte, they realized they could beat anyone at full strength. Then they picked up Antawn Jamison and the talent became overwhelming and the consistent desire wore to occasional aspiration that really sparks into flame when facing an insurmountable deficit. That isn’t the trademark of classic champions. However, both Los Angeles and Boston faced similar challenges on their path to championships, so there is always that.

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