Hadfield: Enjoying the ‘Grumpy Old Men’ Celtics for what they are

This tired group has proven to be fun to watch.
This tired group has proven to be fun to watch.

The amount of media I inhale on a weekly basis is astounding. My saturation threshold for television, movies, music, and, of course, sports is non-existent. Part of this consumption level is caused by pure occupational curiosity (In addition to this sports column, I occasionally freelance as an arts and entertainment critic), and another portion stems from a desire to keep up with the Jones’s (My propensity to stay in touch with pop culture-centric conversations is sort of a lifelong curse). Regardless, some would call this lifestyle “unhealthy” (and they would probably be right).

When it comes to consumption, my viewing habits are hardly exclusionary. I’ll be the first to admit that not everything I watch, listen to, or read is “Mad Men”, Tom Petty, or the New York Times. My weekly intake includes just as much (and in some cases more) reality TV, Taylor Swift, and Barstool Sports. Beyond the Dear God! Did you see that! … remarks, I don’t espouse this type of entertainment to friends or readers, but in the same light, I don’t disparage it either. And that’s because there is something to be said for simply enjoying something for what it is.

I feel the same way about watching the Boston Celtics.

Since Kevin Garnett arrived in 2007, the Celtics have played in 456 regular season games and taken part in 93 postseason battles. Even without spoiler alerts, I know how the finale of this show is (likely) to end. As I’ve previously written, Rajon Rondo was the puncher in the Boston’s “puncher’s chance” to advance passed the Miami Heat in June. Still, here the Celtics are: scrapping together wins, hanging around, and just surviving. Whether it’s gutting out an overtime win against the Hawks or keeping pace with the Thunder, every game is a challenge. Make no mistake about it, these days, a Celtics game never feels like the Patriots breezing by an AFC East opponent in the fall (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

And how the Celtics choose to meet that challenge head-on speaks volumes about their fortitude. I realize this is rather counterintuitive, but removing championship aspirations from the equation has subconsciously enhanced the viewing experience. Like a bad episode of the HBO show “Girls,” I have no expectations with this iteration of the C’s. And I’ve found that playing with house money before you even get to the casino is eerily liberating. You start to appreciate the little things: Avery Bradley’s zero-tolerance defense, Jason Terry misplaced confidence, Jeff Green’s two-way growth, Paul Pierce’s old-man game, everything about Kevin Garnett, Jordan Crawford’s curious shot selection, Chris Wilcox’s hustle, Brandon Bass’ potential and Brandon Bass’ shortcomings. Most of all, you appreciate that the Celtics still believe in themselves.

“I think we’re going to be that team that nobody wants to play in the playoffs. Right now we’re so unpredictable,” Paul Pierce said in a recent interview with NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “You don’t know what we’re capable (of). You look up and we play teams, sometimes we lose to bad teams, and then we beat the better teams. We don’t know which Boston team is going to show up, and at any given moment we can get hot and beat the best of the best in the NBA.”

Pierce is right. On any given night, you don’t know how the Celtics will fare. And even while the team is exceeding expectations, the lack of style points obtained to do so is simultaneously endearing and confounding. Removing Rondo from the experience has been, in nearly every sense, a beautiful disaster.

Watching Boston plod to victory is the closest thing to sports masochism I’ve ever encountered: I hate the way they play – living by mid-range jumpers (Boston ranks in the bottom-six in shots attempted in the paint) — but I appreciate how they play. The uglier the game gets, the better the Rondo-less Celtics perform. Case in point, Boston is 15-1 in games when they give up 90 points or less. They are getting by with stinginess and effort. In the last 20 games, the Celtics rank second in defensive rating giving up just over 97 points per 100 possessions and third in opponents’ effective field goal percentage (an advanced statistic that adjusts basic field goal percentage to account for 3-pointers).

So, when the trade deadline came and went, I found myself firmly entrenched in the anti-Blow It Up camp. My theory was that guys like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green playing competitive games at this stage of their career will help the team down the road. Trading Pierce or Kevin Garnett precludes this experience.

I was lying to myself, though. The real reason I couldn’t bring myself to quit on the Celtics is because they refuse to quit on themselves. A group of Grumpy Old Men, so stubbornly persistent it’s maddening. So screw logic. The Celtics are not going to change; not at this juncture, anyway. I can appreciate that; although, as Pierce alluded to, come playoff time, I don’t think the rest of the league will.

Ryan Hadfield is a columnist for Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @Hadfield_

 

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

Bomb squad detonates backpacks left at Marathon finish…

The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated and the Copley Square T station has been closed as police investigate a suspicious package, WBZ is reporting.

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

NBA

NBA Draft Lottery day is May 20: Celtics…

NBA Draft Lottery day is Tuesday, May 20: Celtics percentage odds for a top overall pick

MLB

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be…

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be dumped just yet

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready…

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready to erupt once again in playoffs

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.