We’re barely 48 hours removed from the end of the Celtics season, and the annual break-up party is already in full swing.
As usual, there are rumors about Kevin Garnett’s retirement and the team moving on from Paul Pierce. There’s talk of Doc Rivers leaving, too. The more you hear, the more you believe that this franchise might be headed for a major overhaul. I’m awaiting word that Danny Ainge has stepped down and will be replaced by Coach Willie Maye.
Or maybe they’ll just all come back?
The truth is that we just don’t know yet. I’m not sure anyone does — and that includes Danny, Doc, Kevin and Paul. After all, the draft is still seven weeks away. There’s no rush to make a decision, and I doubt that any of them will. So instead of speculating over what might happen next, let’s take one more second to review the Celtics first-round knockout.
In the end, their six-game series against the Knicks was obviously more entertaining and far less depressing than a potential four-game sweep. In Game 4, the city watched with pride as Pierce, KG and Jason Terry refused to go down without a fight. In Game 5, the Celtics gave us a heavy helping of old school grit and balls, topped off with a classic Kevin Garnett post-game interview with Greg Dickerson.
“Everything you’re about to say, Greg, it ain’t got nothing to do with it. We out here scrappin’. This is like survival. This is Game 7. Every game from here on out is a Game 7. And we’re scrappin’. No shenanigans. No nothing. We know what they’re running. They know what we’re running. It’s just all out. Who wants this? That’s what it is.”
That interview will be the lasting memory of this playoff run, but ultimately, it’s hard to take KG’s words that seriously after the way the Celtics responded on Friday night.
Game 6 was gross. And despite what Garnett said, it wasn’t a matter of them not wanting it enough. They just didn’t have enough. With all that happened between October and May, the Celtics just weren’t good enough to beat the New York Knicks in a seven-game series. They wouldn’t have beaten the Pacers either. They’d have struggled to get by the Nets or Bulls.
Who’s to blame? I don’t know. Blame everyone if you want. Blame Ainge for leaving glaring holes behind Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Blame Jason Terry for not showing up until the Celtics were down 3-0. Blame Doc for not getting everyone to buy in earlier. Blame Brandon Bass and Jeff Green’s inconsistency. Blame Chris Wilcox for never breaking through. Blame Rondo for not living up to his end of the bargain those first few months. Blame old age, injuries and bad luck. If you’re the Westboro Baptist Church, blame the Celtics association with Jason Collins.
Or you can blame the fact that it’s really, really hard to win consistently in the NBA. Do you know that the Celtics streak of six consecutive years in the playoffs is the fourth longest in the entire league? It’s rare for teams to go even this long without experiencing some kind of rebuild.
Whatever it is, the one thing that we can all agree on is that this season was a disappointment. For so many reasons, they fell short of expectations. And moving forward, the biggest fear is where those expectations go from here. Where does the entire franchise go from here?
Thankfully (or not), we’ve got at least seven long weeks before those answer start to take shape.