BOSTON and Los Angeles fans were already looking forward to a National Basketball Association (NBA) Classico Finals. A good ol’ Celtics-Lakers series that would not just bring back the hoopla and nostalgia of this rabid and classic rivalry, but would also decide which team gets more Larry O’Brien trophies in its trophy room.
But that proved to be just a dream as the wild and wooly NB A Playoffs continued to be just that and more. Imagine, the first-seed Milwaukee Bucks unbelievably bombed out of the first round, unceremoniously booted out by the eighth seed Miami Heat.
The LA Lakers, prone to a string of losses in the regular season, rallied in the last few days of regular play and made it to seventh place and contended strongly in the playoffs.
But in the Western Conference Finals, the mighty Lakers were swept by the cool and steady Denver Nuggets. In the Eastern version, the second-seed Boston Celtics who made mincemeat of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the second round got wiped out by the white-hot Heat in Games 1 to 3, two of which were played in the hostile fortress of Boston.
But Wednesday in Game 4, just when everybody was ready to write the Celtics off and call them every manner of dirty name, they refused to die. Jayson Tatum, much maligned in this series for not showing up against Miami, bailed his team out anew and breathed new life into the series.
So there will be a Game 5 in Boston, and for the moment at least, Al Horford’s lifelong dream of owning a championship ring is still alive.
Will this be the clapback moment for Boston?
“We’re not thinking of winning four games in a row,” JT said after the game. “We came out here to win one, and we did that. We’ll just take it one game at a time.”
So it’s back to Boston on Friday, and whatever happens there—an extended series or mission accomplished for Miami—here are some of the realizations we’ve had about this season’s NBA Playoffs:
1. Heroes are born in the playoffs.
Amazing Miami has shown this best, with its small platoon of undrafted players doing the most damage all playoffs long. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin have all contributed to the merciless barrage of points and strong defense that have kept the Boston Celtics from executing their brand of play. Separately, Jimmy Butler’s name and his stark confidence are written all over this Eastern Conference battle for supremacy.
2. You gotta have heart. But more than heart, you gotta have will.
Sure, a team’s big heart will show the way and make improbable things happen when things are dire. But even more than heart or the strong desire to win, the determination to keep on ploughing, to pay attention to the little things, to persist and believe and wait for the right moment—all these will make the bigger difference when the going gets tough. It’s refusing to lose and working piecemeal to get the prize. It’s called will power, or mental toughness. It’s imposed on the opponent and the situation, with purpose.
3. You can’t fight Fate. Destiny is a blind date.
Who woulda thought Miami would make it this far and trump all other higher-seeded teams in the East? Who woulda thought the Celtics, manhandled by Miami for three straight games would find their groove with their backs to the wall in hostile Miami? Destiny is beckoning to these two teams as it is to the Denver Nuggets who are in the NBA finals for the first time! Who will Destiny favor this season?
Here are wise words to remember about Fate from the Law of Attraction: “What’s meant to be yours is already making its way to you. What was never yours is always fleeing from you. With time it will all make sense, but for now, bear the confusion and focus on living fully in the present.”
Just watch the games. And cross your fingers.