A night of Celtics highlights

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A night of Celtics highlights

There are some mornings when you wake up and avoid the TV and Internet like the plague.

When CSNNE, ESPN, NBA TV, Twitter, Facebook andor anything that bears a reminder to the events of the previous night is eliminated from your life. When, even if it's just for one morning, you choose to pretend that sports don't exist. When that's the only way you can get by.

There are other mornings when you wake up and can't get enough. When the first thing you do is hop online or throw on the TV and frantically flip back and forth like a methhead looking for a fix. Highlights, analysis. Highlights, analysis. On these mornings, you want nothing more than to stay at home all day watching the game on a loop, and listening to what anyone and everyone has to say about your team. Even Stephen A. Smith! Even Skip Bayless! You'd even listen to Fidel Cas nah, I'll stop there.

Anyway, this morning was one of those mornings. One of those beautiful mornings, when all you want is more. More highlights, more analysis. When you and last night's game are like Jim Carey and Kate Winslet, running through your mind and hoping the memories never fade. The Celtics beat the Heat last night. They went down to Miami and slugged them in the mouth. And you never want to forget it.

And of all highlights from last night's inspirational win, there was none more inspiring or indicative of everything that's become of this Celtics season than this

A play we'll creatively and affectionately call: Kevin Garnett's baseline up-and-under.

So, first off, Garnett catches the ball on the baseline, about 20 feet from the hoop, looks up and sees Udonis Haslem furiously running out to defend. At this point, Haslems just about made up his mind that KGs going to shoot, and why not? Garnetts been raining down jumpers from that distance all season for the last 17 seasons and over this recent stretch, hes not only hitting his shot but, perhaps more importantly, so willing to take it.

Case in point: With his 14 attempts from the field last night, KG whod typically rather host a tea party for Charlie Villanueva and Joakim Noah than consistently shoot the rock has attempted 10 or more shots in 18 straight games. Thats kind of funny, since it started the same night as Rondos 10 assist streak, but also subtly symbolic.

Why? Because Garnetts 18 straight games with double digit shots is not only his longest streak since 2009, but his longest since the EXACT day of his original injury.

He had 18 straight from January 6 - February 12, 2009. Then on February 19, the first game after the All Star Break, KG took the court in Utah and was well on his way to No. 19, shooting 4-6 in his first 14 minutes of action. In the second quarter, he went up for an alley-oop, landed awkwardly on his left leg and his career changed forever.

Now obviously, there are an infinite number of NBA stats more telling than individual shot attempts, but with KG the category cant be overlooked. For Garnett, a streak such as this is the perfect combination of consistency and confidence probably the two things hes lacked most in the years since his injury. In 2012, both have traits become a staple of Garnett's game and a major reason for his resurgence.

Anyway, so Haslems pretty sure that KGs going to shoot, and runs at him at with a ferocity that says: If he shoots, Ill contest it; if he pump fakes, Im screwed.

In a split second, Garnett recognizes Haslems momentum, and sets his DeLorean for 2008. With a little slight shrug, he watches Haslem fly by, and then explodes to the baseline. He takes two power dribbles towards the basket with his left hand (in recent years, that occurrence alone would be cause for a column) as two Heat players Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers rush to collapse the lane and cut off KG's angle.

In the past, the old KG or let me be more specific, the old old KG wouldve realized their presence and done one of three things:

a) Pick up his dribble, pivot frantically in a circle and kick the ball back out to the perimeter.

b) Stop short of the hoop, absorb Bosh with his backside and initiate a deliberate sequence of post moves that would have resulted in an awkward hook shot or desperate fade away.

c) Pump fake. Hope to get Bosh in the air and maybe draw a foul. If it works? Great. If not? KG's shot would have likely clanged off the rim and ignited a Miami fast break.

Last night, Garnett went with option D.

In one motion, he exploded towards the rim not in a reckless way that was just praying for a bail out foul, but with a purpose. He jumped at an angle that allowed him to perfectly split the two defenders in midair. Then, once he was in the air, a crazy thing happened: He stayed in the air! Long enough to float along the baseline, use the hoop to block any oncoming defender and gracefully flip the ball up from the other side under perfect control, with the perfect amount of English.

He looked back over his head as the ball fell through, didn't break stride and sprinted back on defense. Like he's done so many times in his career; like many of us weren't sure we'd never see again.And really, that's what this all comes to with these Celtics.

Everything they're doing? We've seen it before.

We've seen them stroll into Miami like it's nothing, smack the Heat in the mouth and walk off like they're the kings of the world. We've seen them go on runs against the league's best. We've seen them absorb constant criticisms about their age, effort and chemistry and defiantly flip those criticisms the bird. Over the last four plus seasons, we've seen it all.

But we really never thought we'd see it again.

Where does it go from here?

Who knows?

Things certainly won't get any easier. The Celtics are still walking a tight rope in terms of depth and injury. They've still got along way to go before any of this is actually real, and anyone, especially the 15 or so guys in that locker room are ultimately satisfied. There are still so many questions to be answered, so many chips to fall. But at this very moment, for the first time in a while, what happens next isn't so much of a concern.

Suddenly, the present is as inspiring as the past and as exciting as the future.

Right now, like KG on the baseline, the Celtics are just floating through the air, somewhere between 2008 and reality. We hope they never come down. We know they eventually will. But in the meantime, we're going to enjoy every second.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got some highlights watch.

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

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.

MORE CELTICS

 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."