The One That Got Away

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The One That Got Away

Well, that was shocking. And no, Im not talking about Adrian Gonzalezs home run.

Im talking about an 18-point third quarter advantage. A potential 3-1 series lead.

And what did the Celtics do with it? They tripped over their shoelaces and tumbled down two flights of stairs. Of course, they survived, theyll live to see another day, but not without acquiring a few new mental and physical bruises. Not without injecting life into a team that was so close to death that theyd actually initiated the release of numerous bodily functions over the Wells Fargo floor. Not without adding to their collection of supremely frustrating 2012 playoff losses.

Final Score: Sixers 92, Celtics 83

In a way, its so easy to lose perspective. When the Celtics landed in Philly on Wednesday, all we really hoped for was a split. A 3-1 advantage would have been nice obviously ideal but we knew it wouldnt be that easy. In reality, all we wanted was one. For the Celtics to stay alive. To steal back home court advantage andor prove that if there comes a time (aka Game 6) when they HAVE to win a game in Philly, that theyd be able to draw from past experience and have the confidence and evidence to take care of business. And regardless of how awfully Game 4 may have played out, the Celtics did achieve that initial and ultimately important goal.

They took back home court. They put themselves in a great position to win this series. And right now, gun to your head, even in the aftermath of Friday nights disaster, youd still bet on them to emerge. But thanks to last night, well take that confidence with a solid helping of regret. With the knowledge that even though a 3-1 series lead was never entirely likely, it was right there. It was real. The Celtics had the chance to put the Sixers away. They HAD them put away. Not just the game, but the series. It was over.

Now thats irrelevant. Now theyre back to square one. Or square two. Or whatever, theyre tied. The Celtics need to win two before they lose two. And if they fail, well always remember the one that got away.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.