With the Boston Celtics' 107-102 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, they were able to overtake Atlanta for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference—all thanks to some classic play, and some classic Kevin Garnett style.
Boston allowed the Hawks to tie the game up late, so it had to do some work in overtime against the Hawks after Al Horford did a little fourth-quarter work.
In the end, it was the Celtics' ability to slow down the pace of the game and get Atlanta out of rhythm to frustrate the Hawks and give them the victory.
Even better, Garnett's postgame comments gave everybody a yearning for the old Celtics days, as if they are inexplicably on the rise again. He's gotten back to the prime Celtics years in which he's knocking down every mid-range jumper and beating guys up whenever they come into the post.
Garnett was particularly miffed at some of the criticism Boston has faced over the course of the past few months, and he never hesitated to point it out.
When asked if he thought the season was turning into a special one, his response was snarky, pointed and truly Garnettian (via WEEI.com):
We haven’t given in to the [expletive] critics. We’re working hard. We’re grinding. We’re showing our character. Our coach is a grinder himself, and his team is just that. We’re not looking for any handouts or sympathies or anything like that. We don’t expect anybody to give us nothing.
There it is. Consider the gauntlet thrown down and the Celtics' season officially underway. It's not a season until Garnett is happily reminding critics why they were so mercifully wrong about this team, which means just about anybody with an opinion about the Celtics back when Rajon Rondo tore his ACL.
As WEEI.com points out, these comments are eerily similar, if a bit more reserved, than what Garnett said a season ago:
Never count us out. You guys called us old. Over. I read some of your pathetic articles and some of your lousy analysis. It’s a pain. Obviously, you don’t know what drives us. I thank y’all for those articles. I appreciate it, because it lit a fire under us.
Ever since Rondo's torn ACL sent everybody into a panic about Boston, the Celtics are 14-4. That's the only thing that should really matter about this team.
This should be a lesson to us all: Stop counting the Celtics out.
Seriously, it sounds incredibly cliché, but every year we call the Celtics old, fading, ready to implode at any minute. The only thing that ever really comes to fruition is a Celtics resurgence and eventual run to the conference finals.
So next year, when they're inevitably 21-29 at the All-Star break, let's just go ahead and assume that they'll go 27-5 down the stretch and finish among the top four in the East.
Not only will that save everybody a little bit of face, we can also skip the entire "Garnett calling everybody out" step.