By: Rich Levine
For most Celtics fans, watching the MiamiChicago Conference Finals is bitter sweet.
On one hand, its a horrible experience.
But on the other, its a really, really horrible experience.
The one consolation is that even if the Celtics did make it this far, it wouldve been ugly. Boston was toast by the end of the Miami series. Mentally, physically, even the coach needed surgery by the end. And even if they found a way to scrape past Miami, it was ending in the next round. Its hard to beat Chicago when Brian Doos guarding Derrick Rose.
So thats that. And in that sense, Bostons OK. Unlike last season, we understand why this wasnt the Celtics year. Weve made peace, and that makes watching the Conference Finals slightly easier to swallow.
Truth is, it still sucks. Youve got Bostons two biggest (conference) rivals going at it, only one step away from the Finals. Meanwhile, it feels like seven years since the Celtics even played.
But you still watch. If you care about the NBA, you have to watch. And if youre from Boston, you root for the Bulls.
Its a little weird, sort of like kissing your cousin's bull, but Thibs is an easy target for our bastard love. Not too mention Scal. Not to mention that the Bulls arent the Heat. Not even Joakim Noah can offset that fact.
We hate the Heat. We hated them before the season started, never mind the playoffs, and watching them dance on the Celtics grave kicked that hatred into ludicrous speed. Its gotten the point that just about everything out of the Miami camp boils our blood. The posturing, the arrogance, the undeserving fan base. But most of all, how damn well theyre playing.
With every step Miami takes toward the title, the Celtics window gets fitted for a pad lock. They need Miami to lose. Best-case scenario, something tragic happens to the Heat in this post-season (LeBron and Wade get into argument in elimination gameBron misses late foul shotsBosh gets destroyed in the Finals), the hype machine carries that over into the regular season (if there is one) and it becomes a story. And yes, maybe thats far fetched, but have you been watching them lately? Its all happening.
And for that reason more than any other, were rooting for the Bulls.
And how do they repay us?
With a trip back through our personal hell.
In their 101-93 overtime loss to the Heat, the Bulls dug up every emotion thats haunted Boston since the Cs went down. Its like they took all the most troubling aspects of the Celtics collapse and combined it into one Game. Chicago was up early, looking strong and defiant. Miami was vulnerable and out of synch. They were on the ropes.
The Bulls were up as many as eight points in the second half, but couldnt figure the finishing move. They were just smashing every button on the controller at once. Still, nothing worked.
And then Heat woke up, ignited a rally and rejuvenated their front-running fans. They put the Bulls to the test, and Chicago failed. They couldnt execute down the stretch. Half-court, transition. It was awful. It was like a switch went off, and all of a sudden, everyone was speaking a different language and playing together for the first time. With a chance to win it on the final possession of regulation, the Bulls barely got off a shot, and even then it was an awful one. Then they crawled into overtime as a dead team walking. Just like the Celtics in Game 4, only Derrick Rose had use of both arms.
And just like you did with Game 4, you sat praying that Miami would fall apart. And then, you sat and watched an emotionally-bleeding massacre. You essentially watched the Bulls season end. LeBron and Wade took over. Chicago never found their rhythm. The Heat celebrated. Once again, at your expense. It was much too soon. No one was ready to stir up those emotions again.
And no ones ready for Miamis inevitable run to a title.
But it's not all bad news for Celtics Nation. After all, the Lakers hired Mike Brown!