During the regular season, the Boston Celtics went 31-10 on the road, the best away record in the league. During the postseason, the Celtics are 0-4 on the road. Perhaps the losing wasn’t as troubling in the first round, when none of the Celtics’ away games were lost by double digits. But then the team lost by 24 points to Cleveland in Game 3. To put that in perspective, the Celtics lost by more than ten points in just two games during the regular season. Obviously, the Celtics need some mental toughness and they need it fast.
But, wait, this is 2008. Professional athletes aren’t pushed, they are pampered. So instead of getting chewed out and shamed, the Celtics are getting comforted. Dan Shaughnessy wrote in today’s Boston Globe that Celtics management is going to every extreme to make the next away game feel like a home game for the losers of four straight road games. The link to the article is http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2008/05/12/home_cooking_up/
They can’t really do that, right? Wrong. Among the Boston-style amenities the Celtics will be treated to are a duck boat ride to the arena (Quack, Quack!), the permission to wear their whit home uniforms (thanks commish), and a personal national anthem for the team performed by lucky singer Rene Rancourt. The Celtics dancers and Lucky the Leprechaun will be flown in, just so the team can see them warming up like it’s a home game. The owners will be courtside as well as some die-hard celebrity fans. The owners are even going to shoot t-shirts into the crowd during time-outs. According to Shaugnessy, the Cavs drew the line at Gino, known as the Celtics “human victory cigar.” See this clip if you don’t understand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MzP0rNN5w0&feature=related.
Isn’t this cute? Sure it is, if you’re a Cavs fan. The story of the Celtics season, up until they lost three away games to the Hawks, was a story of mental toughness, dominance, and shattering expectations. Analysts thought they were benefiting from an easy conference? The Celtics went 25-5 against the West. People thought they couldn’t win when Garnett got hurt? The Celtics won seven of nine games without him. They beat every team in the league at least once. And now the team that won sixty six games in the regular season needs Lucky to warm-up in the hallway to get a win on the road?
So much for veteran leadership. The Celtics need to grow up. They have real problems on the road. They lose defensive intensity; they try to outscore the other team. Rondo loses confidence and Cassell forgets how to score. These are professionals, and the ownership and management should start treating them like it. Duck boats aren’t a solution; they’re a cop-out.