Identity crisis


Identity crisis

By Mary Paoletti

Celtics vs. Heat: Drama at its most profitable.

It is Good vs. Evil, Old vs. New, Blue Collar vs. High Roller. It is Shaq Vs. himself.

It could end tonight.

Game 5 tips off in Miami at 7 p.m., and I have no idea who's going to win. It depends on which Green Team we see.

The difference between what the Celtics are capable of and what they have produced is bizarre. Ray Allen's career PPG average in the playoffs is 21.5. In Game 2, he was held to 7 points in 34 minutes.


You know what that number should be an answer for? How many triples did Ray drop on Miami? (Seven.) How many miles did Ray run for fun during halftime? (Seven.) How many times has LeBron James seen "He Got Game"? (Seven. In one day.)

Folks were ready to take Kevin Garnett behind the barn before the series opener even ended. When he got his first rebound in the next game, I applauded him the way you cheer a 98-year-old who remembers to use the potty instead of his pants. "Ohh, yay! You did it!" I clapped, sad smile tight on my face.

Then Game 3 hit the windshield.

Boston finally looked pissed off about losing and ready to do something about it. KG didn't look old, he looked vintage with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Rajon Rondo was nabbing steals and scoring layup despite having the functionality of a stroke victim. Even broken-down Shaq got buckets. (One. Just one bucket.)

And Miami laid down and bared its neck.

Chris Bosh went back to being comically useless, claiming his six-point, five-rebound performance was due to the "jitters."


It's one thing if Mario Chalmers feels anxious; he's 12. But Bosh has been playing through hangnails and whatnot for seven years. How do you claim jitters with a straight face?

"Hey, Rondo. You feeling jittery?"

"Naw. I don't feel jittery."

"But you got your arm ripped off."

"I don't feel pain. I'm gonna punk the Heat with my nub."

"Okie dokie, then."

But everything since Rondo's bravery has been forgettable.

Garnett went back to soiling himself (1-for-10 FG) in Game 4, and he wasn't alone. Passing was ugly. Glen Davis was -- in his own words-- "nowhere." Shaq might as well have been elsewhere (3 minutes and 31 seconds, zero points).

It was Miami who was supposed to be deflated. It was James who was supposed to choke. But the Heat stole Game 4 in overtime and may have taken Boston's will along with it.

Game 3 created reasonable doubt. It was the kind of game that reminded everyone why this is supposed to be such a great series in the first place. And it might be enough to give hope that the Celtics can drag things out as long as they need to.

Can Boston do it tonight?

It all depends on which Green Team shows up.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”