From Ignominy to Redemption

Celtics Clutch in Game 5 (aka Foamin at the Mouth)

Forget all of the metrics, the plus/minus, points, rebounds, scoring efficiency, and other “moneyball” style metrics that have come to rule out the way games are analyzed today.  Game 5 between the Celtics and Heat can best be understood by one single thing: good old fashioned will to win.  No one player exemplifies this better than Kevin Garnett, who dominated Game 5 playing like his 2004 MVP old self.  As a collective whole, Boston has more players that can exert their will on their opponents than the Miami Heat do.

Michael Jordan was the absolute master of harnessing negativity into an overwhelming positive force.  You’d block Jordan, and he’d come back and drop 20 unanswered on you.  You’d steal the ball from him, and he’d come back and dunk on you 3 three straight times.  You’d win a game and start to believe you could beat his Bulls, and the next night he’d bury your hopes right in front of your eyes.  Just ask Barkley, Malone, Stockton.

This Series is actually best seen through an analysis of 5 key sequences.

In the early going of this Series, Miami was getting their way.  In Game 1, after LeBron drove the lane and scored against KG, he picked the ball up and held it out laughing out loud.  Garnett sneered at him but could do nothing about it, knowing he’d been beat.   Time to harness the negativity.

In Game 2, Wade drove the lane on KG in the overtime and scored a 2 and drew the foul while Garnett just stared.  Time to harness the negativity.

In Game 3, KG was fouled hard by Haslem and landed on his back with a thud.  After regaining his senses, he didn’t stand up, but instead did eight bare-knuckle pushups.  The Celtics didn’t look back after that and won Game 3.

In Game 5, KG got a rebound, put it back and got fouled.  He then proceeded to belt out some obscenities, spit coming off his mouth like a rabid dog.  “KG is our life,”  Doc Rivers, said. “He does so many things that don’t have numbers attached to it.”

In Game 5, Pierce, who had had a terrible shooting night, nevertheless worked an opening on LeBron with the game on the line and canned a 3 pointer to extend a 1 point to lead to 4 int he final minute of the game.

The Celtics have gone from the 6% to the 84% in the span of their three game winning streak.  But that’s only for those that are enslaved by stats.  My intuition says that the Celtics close this out in Boston simply because they want it more than Miami.

Which brings us to the question dominating all of the sports media these days:

What is Clutch ?

Clutch is Pierce putting up a three pointer in LeBron’s face to extend the lead to 4 in the closing minute.

Clutch is Kevin Garnett running on a fast break, recognizing that LeBron didn’t want any part of him, and throwing it down.

Clutch is Kevin Garnett blocking a LeBron drive to the basket.

Clutch is Rondo outjumping LeBron for a loose ball and tipping a perfect pass to a wide open Pietrus in the corner for a killer trey.

Clutch is what you do in the end of a close game, when it matters.

Clutch are the 2012 Boston Celtics.

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