For the past month or so ESPN.com has been barely able to contain themselves comparing the current Celtics season with that of the 95/96 Bulls. Will Boston make 70 wins? Will they match the record of 72 set by Phil and Mike in that fateful season? For some reason I really hope not. For this Celtics team to enter that most irritating discourse of ‘Best Ever’ would annoy me to no end.
While the scale is way out, I see (and dislike) similarities between the Celtics and my ol’ nemesis Lleyton Hewitt. Both are excellent athletes, both have won Championships, both are fighters/strugglers/HUNGRY. But both never shut the fuck up about it either. The fist-pumping histrionics are all fine and well in the deciding moments of tight games – but all the time, every game? C’mon! Sure, winning the top prize in your sport gives you a certain amount of ‘bragging rights’ but there is only so much a spectator can handle before intensity fatigue blinds you to the many brilliant aspects of their game.
It is understandable then that the 27-2, 19 game winning streak Celtics loss to the LA Lakers on Christmas day brought a smile to my Boxing Day. The Lakers beat the Celtics at their own game with more blocks, more forced turnovers and more loose balls won. The C’s doubled Kobe all night, leaving Pau Gasol to lead his team to victory. While there is little chance the Los Angeles won’t win the suddenly weaker Western Conference, they have a fair amount of ground to make up to win home court advantage off either Boston or (fingers crossed) Cleveland.
Imagine then my shock when I logged on to ESPN this morning to see that Boston were now 27-4 after losing 99-89 to perennial Freedarko favourites the (9-22) Golden State Warriors. (Dear God, why could this game not have been on Sky yesterday instead of the dreary Heat win over the Bulls?) Golden State, without two starters and a role-player, came back from 14 points down to get HOT at the right time and took the 4th quarter 35-17. The injured Stephen Jackson lead the charge with a game-high 28 points. Amazing. Now I can’t wait for the Boston/Portland face-off in a couple of days time. Here’s hoping the mighty continue to fall. And here’s hoping for some local coverage.