The Celtics were victorious in their 7th game showdown with the Cavaliers at Boston. Once again avoiding the Mantle of Underachievement by winning the series. It just took longer than it should though is the general buzz. We had to win to advance as well as save face and we did. It was in no way easy. The Celtics are struggling against teams we think they should beat. Things are not looking great in the playoffs so far. We have had serious problems on the road that will hurt eventually if we don't stop the losses.
We don't look like the Celtics that played so incredibly well all year. Somehow, the team that set the record for best single season turnaround looked unfamiliar. The double digit victory margins that came so easy are hard to come by now. We have looked outright confused at times. As though when a player is looking for help no one is where they have always been this season.
In an effort to shore up the team bench with experience the Celtics added Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown; Two high quality and experienced veterans that were supposed to improve the bench. They would be what most of us would call insurance. They were nice to have as last resorts. The Celtics needed little improvement.
The Celtics had the best record all year. The Big Three were everything we hoped for and more. Rondo, the weakest link, surpassed all expectations at point guard. House, Powe and Posey filled their bench roles superbly. We had a rotation that was clear to players and fans alike. Everybody was doing their job. The team was playing sensationally. And then something funny happened on the way to Rome...
In a stroke of anti-genius, Doc Rivers, for some unexplainable and definitely unnecessary reason, suddenly decided to bench House and screw with Powe and Posey's roles in an attempt to inject Cassell into a greater role. A role that the team didn't need and was different than most people envisioned. Suddenly Cassell was coming in as backup and staying in at crunch time. It infringed on Rondo's minutes and role and completely eliminated House from the game. Scotland Yard couldn't find House for the last two months.
Ever since PJ Brown and Sam Cassell joined the team, that flow of energy that is team-chemistry in action has been stymied. The Aura has been dimmed. This is by no means meant as an insult to either player. Acquiring them was a catalyst but it's not their fault. It's a case of subtraction through addition. They added Cassells years of playoff experience with other teams and subtracted Eddie House's year long experience with this team.
It's general vs. specific experience. Cassells experience is valuable. If you want the guy with the most experience playing on your team, Cassell is the man. But if you want the guy who plays best and has the most experience on your team, it has to be House. House's kind of experience is invaluable.
The Celtics haven't looked like the Celtics throughout the playoffs because they're not the Celtics that we watched all season. Good intentions have had bad results. The makeup of the team has been altered at the most inopportune time. The experiment didn't work. Until the 7th game it was obvious to every one on earth except Doc Rivers. But there is hope that Rivers has seen the light. Whatever his reasoning Rivers has apparently seen the error of his ways.
Doc Rivers had a coaching epiphany. In a brilliant flash of insight by hindsight he realized that the reason for the Celtics playing so poorly was simple. He screwed with things by coaching when he didn't need too. The team we are seeing in the playoffs is not the Celtics that we were watching all season. The few minor adjustments Rivers made had major ramifications... not such good ones either.
The Celtics in the playoffs had been a different team... until game 7.
Ignoring his better judgement, Rivers decided to go back to the team that had the best record in basketball for the 7th game with Cleveland. He sat Cassell and went back to the House, Powe, and Posey trifecta that had done everything we needed and more. House, in particular, along with Powe and Posey were back in their spots in the bench roster and game rotation. They were as solid and consistent in their contribution and impact on the games outcome. Everyone was doing their job again in the usual manner. It was the reason the Celtics won as a team.
Pierce and James played the games of a lifetime. They offset each others contribution. The difference was in the play of the bench. The Celtics in game 7 were the Celtics I've been watching all season. House Powe and Posey were as important to the win as any of the big three. P.J Brown also benefited from the improved flow and had the game of his year.
For me I was happy to see House have such a great game. He has been a favorite of mine and most of the fans as well. He is as passionate as his job as any superstar. The dive he made after the loose ball in game 7 will be on every highlight show for the rest of the playoffs. I've been screaming for him for months. I think he will play a big part along the way in a big game. And if so, he will not fail. He is a dream shot waiting for the pass.
Eddie House is a special story guy. The Good Guy at the right time and place where he has a dream season. He has earned the right to play to the end like he has all year. He should be able to win or lose with the team he is a critical part of. We need his spark and spirit. It's the right time for an unlikely hero role. House can more than fill it. Powe and Posey are every bit as important and critical to the teams success.
If they get the chance I believe they will go all the way. But they need to be on the floor. I hope Doc Rivers will stop helping and tinkering and let the guys who started this drive finish it. Let Sam relax. Go with what has worked... and with the team that has worked for this opportunity all year.