It was like a bitter cold January morning throughout the first half (and then some) during Game 5 Friday night, but after a prolonged cold start the Celtics engine finally turned over.
It was good enough for a 121-108 victory and an opportunity to step back into this series after their collective backs were stapled to the wall as late as 10:30 p.m. Comebacks usually fuel the fire in me and bring out all of the best emotions a fan can experience.
But to be honest, this one simply left me wanting.
It left me wanting to get answers to questions Celtics fans have been craving all series ... like where is it every night? After a near perfect Game 3 when the Celtics proved they did in fact have the recipe, where’s the consistency? Lastly and most relevantly, how can you come out Friday night, not just flat, but near dead down 3-1?
The comeback came and it did so with great force at their most desperate hour and that has to be both acknowledged and appreciated. But the questions of consistent and head-scratching inconsistency that has plagued this team all series as noted in my recent column is the real story to me. Where is it every night? Why is it so hard for you to find?
Again, big win, but important questions are still left unanswered, leaving me unsatisfied and wanting. I know this to be true because I’m not one for style points.
For the first time in my entire life, the experience of watching the Celtics and being a fan of the Celtics took on a different shape. The best way I can describe it? It was like watching the Red Sox.
Fans of a certain age can easily understand the difference. Even during the most challenging years after the glory days of the 1980’s, the Celtics were given an emotional pass by the fans. The Big 3 were long gone, their succession plan was eradicated by the unfortunate and untimely deaths of two young star building blocks that left decades of carnage behind. Fans understood and were patient with the downs, occasional ups and the way-downs along the journey, right up through 2008 and the long awaited Banner 17. It has always been and continues to be, a courting level and honeymoon level love with the Boston Celtics in this town and they have earned that feeling with the fans. One hundred percent.
With the Red Sox the love is deep, but it wears the scars of a multi-decade marriage. The courting and the honeymoon period have long since passed. The bond is deep and the roots are strong but the side-dish of snark from years of seeing too many of the warts that nobody else sees, rears its ugly head out of the dead-horse Rolodex every once in a while.
The Celtics made me feel like I was watching the Red Sox last night for the first time that I can remember, if ever. Somebody congratulate the Celtics and me on our 40th anniversary please and pass the salt ...
Now the Celtics have an opportunity to even this series on Sunday and as the emotions pass that will be the real story. Win and you have given your team a chance to advance and that’s a good thing after being down 3-1. It would be nice to see this team put their best foot forward in both Game 6 and 7 because we know they can. They evidence is there, as is the talent.
Put it all together and reclaim that loving feeling. Do that and I’ll forgive the 22 minutes of warts I saw on Friday night and maybe another honeymoon during the NBA Finals will await.