The NBA playoffs are already rocking and rolling. The Sixers shocked the Pistons in Game 1 before dropping Game 2; San Antonio came back twice to take a 2-0 lead on the Suns; Pau Gasol, the 7-foot Spaniard, had huge numbers against the Nuggets.
And what of Boston? Ho-hum. The Celtics crushed the lowly Atlanta Hawks twice and still, people keep looking to the west.
|Ex-player Tom Heinsohn says the current Celtics 'play like us.' (Getty Images)|
"They play like us," he said, referring to the Hall of Fame combination of Heinsohn, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. Cousy, who was standing nearby when Heinsohn said it, agreed with him.
"These guys can beat you in different ways on different nights," Cousy said. "One night it might be passing, one night shooting, another night defense."
The Celtics are not that intriguing. While other teams have been blowing big leads and causing heartburn for their fans, the Celtics sent a message that they would establish themselves from the first basket on.
Rajon Rondo, the second-year point guard in his first playoff game, is emerging as a star among a galaxy of stars. Matched up against veteran Mike Bibby, Rondo made the festive gathering roar its approval.
In front of the rollicking Garden crowd in Game 1 -- which included Big Papi, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell from the first-place Red Sox -- Rondo scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, handed out nine assists and clearly outplayed Bibby, who finished with only five points.
"I felt comfortable," said Rondo, which made Ray Allen laugh.
"He probably doesn't even realize the pressure he's under," Allen said of the 22-year-old.
In the beginning of the year, not many scouts focused on Rondo. But now he must be factored into any game preparation. Rondo always had great quickness, exceptional athleticism and tenacious defense, but now he can take over a game in a way that some are comparing to Mo Cheeks.
And while people have been talking about how Shaq fits in with his new teammates or if Tim Duncan will ever get old, Kevin Garnett is experiencing a renaissance of his own.
"I had so much emotion running through the tunnel before the game," said Garnett, who toiled for 12 years in Minnesota without the supporting cast he enjoys today. "The building was rocking, the stands were shaking. I just thank the Lord I'm back in this position."
Will Danny Ainge be able to do what Kevin McHale hasn't accomplished? Will Ainge get there before Larry Bird?
There is basketball greatness in all those men, but Ainge is in the best position of any general manager/former Celtic to earn a ring. Only he among the three is looking at 1 down, 15 to go. A win would be the Celtics 17th championship, which all three have mythically contributed to.
In a city celebrating baseball, hockey and the Boston Marathon, the Celtics are back in the mix. The trades that brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the offseason helped Boston to the best record in the NBA.
With the fans in green jerseys, the games on network TV (with an eye on the Lakers) and all the reporters packed into the Celtics locker room, if you squint, it just might look like 20 years ago.