We like getting fan perspectives on big sports stories – like the Eastern Conference Finals, for example. To that end, we’ve enlisted Boston fan Dan Spritz to share his Celtics-related thoughts during the series. His Game 1 postmortem is below.
The expectation coming into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night was that the Heat would win, and that’s what happened. Although the Celtics kept it close for most of the game, the result never really seemed in doubt. LeBron had 32 and 13 for the Heat, and Dwyane Wade chipped in with 22. Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 23, and Rajon Rondo almost had another triple double with a 16-9-7, but it wasn’t enough. So what’s on a Celtics fan’s mind in the wake of the loss? More detailed thoughts on the game below, split into three sections.
Why Celtics Fans Should Be Freaking Out
The Heat missed 20 3s and still won by 14. Twenty! If they made their season average, they would have won by 26. If they had an above average shooting night, it would have been a total blowout. Sure, this was partially because the Celtics played good defense, but even amazing defense cannot be fully responsible for a team shooting 20 percent. Most of the Heat just didn’t play that well. LeBron had a great night, but Wade was the only other player who was even good. Shane Battier’s 10-10 almost happened by default (he shot just 4-11 and 2-9 from three), so it doesn’t count. What happens when a role player actually steps up?
Meanwhile, the Celtics had trouble scoring in general. If not for the 35-point eruption in the second quarter, this could have been a blowout. In fact, there were many scenarios in which that could have happened. If the Heat shot normally, it would have been a blowout. If the Celtics scored normally, it would have been a blowout. If any player besides two of the best players in the world played well for the Heat, it would have been a blowout.
On top of that, Ray Allen can’t run and has forgotten how to shoot. Those are not desirable traits for NBA starters. Coming in, the worst-case scenario was that he’d be a liability on defense (he was), and then he missed four free throws. Four! He shot 92% from the line in the regular season and is shooting 65% in the playoffs. I can’t even comprehend the idea that Ray Allen is no longer a good shooter, even if he is hurt. I actually got excited when he pulled down a couple rebounds because it meant he wasn’t useless. That can’t become a trend. There has never been a successful team with a starting backcourt that is better at rebounding than scoring.
Why Celtics Fans Should Be Feeling Good
No one expected the Celtics to win this game, and all of the calls went against them. That was truly some egregious whistleblowing, but it’s hard to imagine that will continue, especially in Boston. There was not any point where the Heat dominated the Celtics. Sure, they won and played better for most of the game, but they were fairly sloppy and looked very beatable at times. Much of this has to do with the reality that they don’t have anyone who can guard Rondo or Garnett. Ronny Turiaf and Mario Chalmers are going to have a long series.
If that’s not enough, Boston fans stay until the end of playoff wins. There would never be a mass exodus with two minutes to go. My goodness, it looked like entire sections were empty with time still on the clock.
How I Actually Feel
The refs did not decide this game. The Heat certainly deserved to win, but those technical fouls were ridiculous. The delay of game on KG was absurd, and at one point the Celtics were racking up technical fouls so fast that I was worried about the team being in technical foul trouble. The referees had to have been affected by the home crowd. Shouldn’t there be psychological screenings to determine how easily persuaded they are? There was no need for all of the technical fouls, and it began to feel like the Heat were playing 8-on-5.
With that in mind, it is encouraging that the Celtics kept it competitive for as long as they did in a game no one expected them to win. I still think they’ll lose the series, but they’ll definitely win some games, and it would not be a huge surprise to me if it went 7.
Agree? Disagree? Be sure to follow Dan Spritz on Twitter, and write shouty, all-caps tweets at him about being a Masshole.
Getty photo, by J. Meric