For the first time in about a week, the Boston Celtics actually showed some heart, resiliency and energy at some point during a real life NBA basketball game. Sure, the heart, resiliency and energy came after they were down by 27 points in the third quarter to Oklahoma City, but beggars can't be choosers, right?
Regardless, some would classify Boston's effort on Wednesday night as a "moral victory." Others, like myself, hate to use that term because it takes away from what really happened, which was that the Celtics lost. Doc Rivers, however, kind of classified it as a moral victory by saying that it wasn't a moral victory, which he's allowed to do because he's the head coach. (Boston Globe)
"Every once in a while you lose a game and you have a team-building game. Tonight was a team-building game for us," coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm rarely happy, I'm still not. We lost the game. There's still no moral victories but that was absolutely a team-builder in our locker room and that was terrific."
In a situation that should have come to a surprise to nobody at this point, the Celtics found a way to look like a D-League club and the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the same game. The only difference between this game and all of the other games that Boston has pulled this trick is that they were severely undermanned last night. Paul Pierce was spending some time at power forward, Kevin Garnett was the center and Mickael Pietrus was required to see a boatload of minutes. They were able to make a massive second-half run on the road against the best team that the NBA has to offer and turned a 27-point deficit into a two-possession game down the stretch in the fourth quarter. It was a gut-check type of run that told us what we already knew: The Celtics can fight.
If this is a game that Doc Rivers can look back on and use to fuel his guys later on when everyone's healthy and/or has returned from suspensions earned due to throwing fastballs at referees, then use it to your advantage. Play it off any way you want to if it helps this team to get going. The reality is that the Celtics need to take that energy and defensive effort that got them back into last night's game, bottle it up and play that way for a full 48 minutes. We've all seen the flashes of what this team can really do when they play Celtics basketball. It's scary how good they can be. It's just the consistency that becomes the issue and it is going to always be an issue with an older team.
This isn't college basketball. You don't get to the dance based on your resumé or by how well you played in your losses to the great teams. You get there by winning, not "moral winning."