By Sarah Barton
Before last night's game against the Magic, Tommy Heinsohn proclaimed the following: "If the Celtics win, great. If they don't, it doesn't prove anything because KG didn't play his normal role."
As a Celtics fan, it's easy to agree with Tommy's statement. But at what point can we stop pulling the KG card? Or, perhaps more importantly, when will people stop taking the KG card at face value?
The Celtics strung together a handful of good wins over the past week, and KG didn't play his normal role in any of those. That shows that Boston can win without KG. Who knows, maybe KG's "normal role" will be different for the rest of the season and playoffs. What is normal, anyway?
Two things must occur in order for KG to be back in his "normal role." 1) He starts playing more minutes. If his minutes are predetermined before each game, he can only do so much to help, and ends up on the bench during crunch time. 2) The Celtics win games. If the Celtics aren't winning games when KG starts playing 30-40 minutes, will anyone readily admit that KG is back?
The loss against the Magic did prove something. It proved that Boston can beat the Grizzlies and Clippers, but can't quite handle what they are bound to see in the playoffs. Last night's game had a playoff-esque atmosphere. Magic players considered it their biggest of the year, while the Celtics used it as just another opportunity to break in KG. Sure, Boston took the game seriously (to the Celtics' credit, they almost came back for a fourth quarter victory); nevertheless, pulling the KG card somehow excuses the loss.
The Celtics still have time to come around, but as of right now, the road ahead looks long. Soon, games will start to matter. Excuses will not propel the Celtics through the playoffs. Health is important, but the Celtics need to stop harping on it. Just let it happen. It will take time. Boston has proven that it is possible to win in the meantime, which is promising, but what would really be nice would be losing without using health (or lack thereof) as an excuse.
Hopefully the Celtics will pull themselves together before the playoffs. As far as I'm concerned, pulling themselves together means coming to terms with their health and their available roster and canning the excuses. When it comes down to it, Boston is already in the playoffs, so technically these last regular season games don't matter. With any luck, the Celtics are getting the excuses out of their system now, because in less than a month, excuses will officially become null and void.