Avoiding a sweep
In sports, it’s always pretty humiliating when your team gets swept.
For instance, knowing that the Lakers just got swept by the San Antonio Spurs puts a smile on my face. The Lakers were never going to win that series, but they lost it in the most embarrassing fashion possible, with the Most Annoying Player in the League (Dwight Howard) getting ejected in game four and the rest of the team’s much ballyhooed roster looking slow and old. The sweep didn’t come out of nowhere. The Lakers have been pathetic all season, and an ignominious departure from the playoffs is just icing on the cake.
On the other hand, perhaps sweeps serve a useful function: that of the mercy killing. My beloved Celtics managed to avoid getting swept on Sunday, but what does it matter? They blew a double-digit lead despite the absence of Knicks’ sharpshooter J.R. Smith and home-court advantage, hanging on for the win in overtime. From where I sit, it’s hard to imagine this Celtics team marching into Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and beating the Knicks.
So they didn’t get swept. Big deal. After watching bits and pieces of their first four playoff games, I’m not really sure I have the stamina for much more. Because these games have been grueling. I rarely turn games off before they’re over. But I did just that on Friday night, when the Celtics were getting blown out at home by the Knicks. It wasn’t the fact that the Celtics lost that bothered me so much as how they lost. They looked completely outclassed, like a j.v. team trying to take on the varsity. I found the whole thing depressing.
Anyway, I’m anxious to see what happens on Wednesday, but I’ve come to the conclusion that getting swept really isn’t the worst thing in the world. Although, as the New England Sports Fan Friend has pointed out, the decline of the Celtics is an age-old NBA story, one that gets told over and over again. Players eventually get too old, and a newer generation of champions and would-be champions takes their place. What we’ve witnessed over the last couple of years has been the rise of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, and the sad decline of the Lakers and the Celtics. (Although the Spurs, weirdly, remain a contender.)
Speaking of the Miami Heat, I think the dominance of LeBron & Co. explains why I’ve been somewhat less obsessive about the NBA playoffs than usual. I mean, we all know the Heat are going to win, right? The playoffs feel more like a coronation than a contest, and although some of the games have been fun, the outcome seems almost predetermined. If there’s anything to be happy about, it’s that I won’t have to watch the Heat destroy the Celtics. Better to lose in five games to the Knicks then get swept by the Heat.
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