The Celtics have played many great games this year. Down the stretch of the regular season, they were on fire. A regular season road blowout of the Miami Heat showed the world that this was a team that could contend for a championship. However, for me, there was a game much earlier that showed that there is something special about this team. Ironically, it was a loss.
Against the Thunder, the Celtics saw a 10 point first quarter lead turn into a 27 point deficit in the second half. The Celtics were playing without Rajon Rondo(suspension), Chris Wilcox or Jermaine O'Neal (big surprise). After falling down by that much, and giving up 72 points in the first half, you would've thought this short-handed team would've just mailed it in.
That wasn't the case.
"We knew this team was going to keep fighting us. Giving up is not in their character and they have a great coach and a great group of guys," Kevin Durant said that night. "We knew they were going to come out and fight. We knew they were going to make a run. That's what happens in this league."
By the end of the third quarter, that 27 point deficit was 13 and by the fourth quarter it was only six. Some clutch plays from Kevin Durant helped the Thunder hold on for a 119-104 win, but the Celtics effort really stuck with me all season. It wasn't the first deficit they had erased, but it proved to me something that made this team special.
It sounds corny, but this team never gives up.
"I've never played on a team that's just given up. I just tried to push the guys, push the guys all the way to the finish," Pierce said after that game. "I've never been a player that stopped short."
When this team is down, they play their best. It happened in a loss later in the season against New York. The Knicks were raining down threes at a historic rate and took a huge lead on the Celtics. Even then, I knew the Celtics would at least make it a game again, and they did - dwindling a 20 point deficit to single digits.
When the Celtics fell down 0-2 to the Miami Heat in this Eastern Conference Finals, most people wrote them off. Hell, I even did. But, I forgot. There's something special about this squad. You can never count them out. You can't say that for most teams.