When you look at these Boston Celtics… especially our ‘Big 3′… you realize how true that saying is. And when you’re under stress… like on the road in a playoff series… those weaknesses show themselves. When you’re comfortable… like when you’re home… those strengths carry you.
Kevin Garnett: Emotion
Few of us have seen anything as intense as KG. It’s non-human. At home, he takes our cheers and turns them into energy. On the road, however, its different. KG even says so himself:
The fans in Boston are absolutely nuts. They bring the energy. When you’re on the road, it’s just you and your teammates. Coaching staff… personnel.. that’s it. Unless you’re Pose [James Posey], from Cleveland, you don’t have any family here, you don’t have nobody rooting for you. You have a couple of spots of green in the crowd… it’s called home court advantage for a reason. Don’t take that real lightly.
He’s right about all that. But at this level, the best are supposed to be able to deal with that. Garnett, as much as we love how much he feeds off our emotion, seems to be negatively affected by the road crowd. Am I the only one that thinks that if that LeBron dunk was attempted in Boston, Garnett would have rotated over a step quicker, and challenged it? Just watch the video. He’s slow getting over… and he doesn’t attempt to challenge the dunk at all. Very unlike KG.
Paul Pierce: The Hero
Paul Pierce has been our go-to guy for forever. He’s taken over games and won his fair share. But on the road, at a time when no one seemed to want to take over… Paul Pierce decided he was going to do it. The only problem was that by the end of the game, Pierce was moving a step slower than usual… which is normal when you’re guarding LeBron James for 40 or so minutes. The result: a 6-17 game that featured ill-advised 3 point attempts that were seemingly aimed at matching Daniel Gibson’s barrage.
So when people say ‘no one wanted to take over down the stretch’…. they’re wrong. Pierce wantedto take over… he just couldn’t. But the difference between his inability to hit shots and LeBron’s inability… LeBron dished out 13 dimes, and Pierce only had 3. Sometimes, Heroes have a hard time recognizing that they’re not saving the day all the time.
Ray Allen: The Sniper
Ray is in the conversation with all-time great shooters in the NBA. He’s got a beautiful stroke crafted by OCD-like practice and dedication. He probably feels like every shot that leaves his hand… whether he be set up or flying off a screen… feels like its going in.
But its not right now. And whether its a stubborn refusal to realize it…. or a confidence that doesn’t allow him to see it…. the attempts to shoot out of the slump is making it worse. I feel like I’m watching an old gunslinger get beat on the draw again and again… but he keeps trying because he knows he still has it. And Ray is still an excellent shooter… but since Ray also has a bit of ‘Hero’ in him… because he’s been good enough to heat up from outside and carry his team to wins… he’s got it in his head that he can still carry this team from the outside.
At home… these guys can get away with these things because, like the title says, these are their strengths. But when things go wrong… and these guys lean on these strengths too much…. they become weaknesses. And they are weaknesses that have contributed to 5 straight playoff losses on the road.