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Celtics In Must-Win As Playoffs Thrill

This article is more than 12 years old.
Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce speaks with guard Rajon Rondo during Game 4 against the Miami Heat, Monday. (AP)
Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce speaks with guard Rajon Rondo during Game 4 against the Miami Heat, Monday. (AP)

If the Celtics lose to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of their NBA playoff series Wednesday night, Miami will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals — and Boston will limp home.

It wouldn't have been hard to predict that Boston and Miami and their respective Big Threes would generate some exciting postseason moments, but the 2011 NBA playoffs have been some of the most unpredictable and interesting in years.

Storylines? For the vanquished Los Angeles Lakers, how about: “Golden Franchise Sheds Grit To Dismay Of Glittering Fans?” Or, better, “Hollywood Shocked By Horror-Show As Champions Turn Thug.”

Now let’s look east: “OK Needs Extra Rounds to KO Memphis.”

And we haven’t even gotten to the grand, if tortured, metaphor expressing what’s bound to happen when age tangles with youth, in overtime or anytime: “Heat To Melt Celts?”

The action in the current NBA postseason has been an advertisement for the game. Perhaps it has also confirmed the good judgment of fans who pay scant attention to the NBA until the playoffs. The long regular season determined very little, whereas some of the confrontations in the postseason have been decisive, as when Boston swept New York and Miami thumped Philadelphia, four games to one. A lot of the rest of the match-ups have reminded fans of what fun a best-of-seven series can be.

But wait. There’s been more.

LA's failure to win even a game against Dallas, and the frustration evident when two Lakers committed fouls serious enough to get them ejected from the final game of that series while the Mavericks were lobbing in three-pointers as if they were free throws provided the sort of what-a-falling-off-was-there melodrama that captures the attention of people who don’t know hang-time from halftime.

The same can be said of the Miami-Boston series, albeit for different reasons. The Celtics are Boston, tradition and old. The Heat is Florida and young, which sounds counterintuitive, but nevermind. It’s an oversimplification, but it’s the sort of oversimplification that attracts interest, and the series is intriguing as much for the alleged contest between experience and youth as it is for the actual basketball being played. And some of the basketball has been exhilarating.

Then, for fans who insist that a good series must go the distance, there has been the Memphis-Oklahoma City match-up. Game 4 went the distance plus three overtimes, and the series would seem likely to exhaust both teams before it ends.

And then there’s suspense. In a sports world characterized by haves continuing to have as everybody else scrambles for the crumbs and promises to try to do better, the NBA postseason seems poised to provide…well, that’s the great thing, isn’t it? Who knows?

This program aired on May 11, 2011.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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