Watching the Celtics and 76ers series reminded me of a story from when we were kids. The tortoise and the hare. The two race each other, and the fast hare jumps out to an early lead, but arrogantly stops to take a nap. The tortoise keeps moving forward. "Slow and steady wins the race," he repeats. Eventually, the tortoise wins the race. Teaching a lesson that just because you're naturally more gifted doesn't mean you can fuck around and still win.
In my version of the tortoise and the hare, I'd have the hare purposely losing the race because he bet on the tortoise in Vegas. Then he gets killed by mob guys who lost money betting on him.
Anyway, the Celtics remind me of the hare. Their record in games that they can eliminate an opponent speaks for itself. They struggle to beat teams that they've already beaten 3 times. That's weird.
They take a kind of break. Instead of 110%, they only give 95%. No big deal, right? So long as there's enough gas in the tank to win when it matters, then fine.
What worries me a bit is that in this series, I don't know if they can just step it up for Game 7 and be the odds on favorite to win. I have a feeling like maybe they've let the 76ers stick around for too long. And now Bradley is out. His replacement Ray Allen isn't capable of playing a full game of productive basketball (on either side of the ball).
The Celtics are more talented than the 76ers. But that advantage is hedged by the Celtics' age and health.
The 76ers have also shown more character in this series than the Celtics have. They've won a game in Boston, they've outplayed the Celtics in close 4th quarters, they've recovered after getting blown out, they came back from a 17 point 3rd quarter deficit to win. They have taken full advantage of every opportunity the Celtics have given them.
The C's have not taken advantage of the opportunities given to them by the 76ers.
The Celtics are still the hare. It's their game to lose. In the fable, if the hare simply stopped fooling around and picked up the pace, he would have beaten the tortoise. That's what the Celtics have yet to do but still can do.