Celtics; Push or Tank?

Marcus Smart in last night’s win over the Hawks. (Photo courtesy of Brian Babineau and nba.com/celtics)

In one of the most boring, yet incredibly exciting games of the year, the Celtics stunned the Atlanta Hawks last night with a last second, 89-88 win.

I was in attendance for what the 98.5 The Sports Hub’s play-by-play announcer, Sean Grande, called an “Extraordinary, statistical, improbability” win. That’s a mouth full.

As you know, I am not the biggest basketball fan, and I rarely follow the Celtics, so this was the first game I had been to in a few years. The last was an Eastern Conference Semi-Final against Philadelphia. I was seeing a completely new Celtics squad.

The Celtics came out for warm-ups, and then the starting lineups were called, and all I could think of was that this team looked dead. There was no fire, no stupid hand shakes, no getting amped up to play the NBA’s best team. The first three quarters proved that. The Celtics couldn’t hit a shot (32.3% on field goals) and were horrendous on 3-point attempts until the fourth quarter. On top of that they weren’t playing great D, letting the Hawks get a lot of uncontested shots. But despite that, Boston never fell behind by more than 18 points.

It wasn’t until Jared Sullinger, a 19-foot jumper, pulled the game to within six points, and made everyone in the building (including the Celtics and Hawks) start to feel it.

It was back-and-fourth from there, but the whole time the Celtics kept it close. They finally grabbed the lead for the first time in the game with a two-pointer from Evan Turner, with just two-tenths of a second left.

The Celtics in the last six minutes of that game are the Celtics that Boston loves. The building was electric in those last six minutes and that’s when I realized that this team can’t tank.

They sit just a few games back of the eighth seed in the East, so making the playoffs right now is very realistic.

Boston sports are known for their championships, not for getting a high draft pick because they tanked the season prior. Me, not being an avid fan, was okay with a tank, but now that I saw those fans get behind a team that was struggling all game, I say push for the playoffs.

What’s the worst that can happen? We get the eight seed and by some miracle grind out a first-round series win? And if not (make the playoffs) then you get thrown in the lottery, but they’ll have at least tried to get there.

Boston fans would rather that than a tank that makes you gamble on a high pick. I say build off this core and make Marcus Smart your guy. That game last night was too fun to just watch them lose the rest of the season.


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