MIAMI — It was less than five months ago.
We were Celtic-centric. We were still stinging from another Super Bowl stunner, surprised that the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs, and somewhat concerned with the increasingly goofy behavior of Bobby Valentine.
But we had the Celtics. They were everybody’s favorite team in New England, enjoying a feel-good run through the NBA playoffs. They had defied the critics in taking a 3-2 series lead against the supposedly indomitable Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. It looked like the Celtics would close out the choking pretenders at the Garden in Game 6, but LeBron James went into Wilt Chamberlain overdrive and knotted the series.
And so we all took our talents to South Beach for Game 7. Anticipating a lengthy road trip that would take them to Oklahoma City for a couple of games after winning in Miami, the Celtics packed string ties and Buddy Lee shirts. We reminded ourselves that the Celtics were 21-7 in Game 7s. The Heat would undoubtedly choke in the big one. Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair. We were all going to Thunder Road.
It looked good for a while. It was tied after three quarters and there were seven lead changes early in the fourth. But Boston’s old bones got cold and creaky down the stretch. Miami closed with an 18-6 run. It was awful. We were watching the final moments of the Duct Tape Five. Trailing by 11 with 28.3 seconds left, Doc Rivers cleared his bench.
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