Clash Of The (Paper) Titans

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Nuggets and Celtics locking horns is the kind of game you want to see no matter where they play, right?

These are, after all, two of the league’s elite teams.

And to see two titans (at least on paper) cross conference lines this late in the season usually always provides a glimpse into what we might see from them come playoff time.

So why are we so underwhelmed at the prospect of these two teams squaring off tonight in Boston (7 p.m. ET on ESPN)?

It might have something to do with the Nuggets’ dropping two straight games, including a stunner Tuesday night in New York.

The Celtics have actually picked it up recently, winning four of their last five games.

And tonight’s game tips off a season-long homestand, six games through Easter Sunday, that could very well help them snatch control of the third slot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Still, the folks at home don’t seem to be as fired up about this homestand as you might expect.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe: “For decades, the Boston Garden and now the TD Garden have been known as imposing venues for Celtics  opponents. The Celtics relished playing on Causeway Street and capitalized on that home-court advantage.
But this current bunch has enjoyed playing on the road more, sporting the league’s second-best road record (24-13) including recent impressive wins at Houston and Dallas.

So a six-game, two-week homestand is being viewed with mixed emotions, especially as the Celtics begin it with a difficult game tonight against the Denver Nuggets and MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony.

The Celtics have 12 games left in the season to wrap up the East’s No. 3 seed, eight of those at home. But their home record (21-12) is reason for concern.

All season, the Celtics have not played consistently or felt comfortable at TD Garden, and the players and coaches have just learned to accept it as a mystery. But they also realize they need to win in Boston to avoid a potential matchup with the Cavaliers in the second round, let alone a first-round series with the blazing-hot Bucks.

So there is much at stake in this six-game stretch, with four opponents heading to the playoffs (Denver, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland) in addition to a difficult game against Houston and a tricky matchup with the young Kings.

“It’s tough, but it’s at home,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “It would be a nice chance to reestablish us at home. We haven’t done that this year yet. We haven’t had a lot of rhythm at home, so we have a chance right now.”

So do the rest of us. We have a chance to see if these two teams have the stuff we thought they did earlier this season when things were going well. We have a chance to see if their championship mettle is real or just a figment of someone’s imagination.

We’ve been pretty merciless in our pounding of the Celtics this season, but we’re willing to give them another shot.

One Comment

  1. Sledge says:

    What is your earliest memory?