Last night the Boston Celtics played the Detroit Pistons in Boston. They lost the game when they fouled Chauncey Billups with .1 seconds left and sent him to the line for the game-winning free throws.
A couple of headlines I saw called this game a failure on Boston's part. "Celtics Fail Test" was one in particular.
So, was this game a legitimate test? Does this game played in December mean anything in determining playoff contenders.
Some would argue that it is too early to attach any meaning to the game at all, that it was just an unlucky set of plays at the end of the game. Boston played well against Detroit and showed they have all necessary skills to beat them, but came out with the short stick in this particular match, that's all.
All of this could be true, but it is also possible that Garnett and company do not have the killer instinct to win the big games. Maybe when they stare Rasheed Wallace and company in the eye, they falter, they cringe, they know they just are not good enough.
I point primarily at Garnett because he is the big man, the foundation of the team in every way. All those years he played out west for Minnesota and could never get past guys like Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'neal in playoff time. Maybe that wasn't just bad luck. Maybe Garnett is lacking something, that something we just can't put a finger on.
Maybe Garnett is nothing but a stat machine that doesn't know how to truly seal the deal in crunch time. Shaq is no longer going to be in Garnett's way. Shaq is old and washed up. There are still other big men to worry about like Rasheed Wallace or Dwight Howard. Two of the Celtics three losses came against Detroit and Orlando. Coincidence?
This Celtics team could be the most talented team in the east, which always makes it easy to beat the low level of talent that populates most of the eastern conference teams, but when playoff time comes, they will have to play teams with equal talent. Those games are decided by something else. They are decided by what we can only call the winning instinct. Does Garnett have that winning instinct?