For the third straight year, the Boston Celtics will depart from the NBA Playoffs before winning the title. As soon as the Celtics' Game 5 loss to the Heat ended, it was natural to wonder whether this was indeed the end of their run for good. Then, Doc River proclaimed his desire to return as head coach in his post-game press conference (though we forget he clarified to say that was his thought right now), and we realized they may not be done yet.
Still, this probably represents the end of one of Boston's best final shots to win a title. Everyone is a year older next season, and key decisions need to be made on the futures of role players like Glen Davis, Delonte West and Jeff Green. If this is indeed it, the Celtics truly departed like champions, pushing a significantly more talented team to the brink despite numerous injuries.
Now, the second-guessing may begin. Does Boston win this series if Rajon Rondo doesn't hurt his elbow in Game 3? Rondo was completely ineffective in this game, and word within the organization is that he'd be out 6-8 weeks under normal circumstances. More importantly, does Boston win this series with a healthy Kendrick Perkins? It's impossible to define the intangible element his departure had on the psyche of the team, but it's hard for me to think that a banged-up Perkins would make a difference against a Miami team that would respond by going small to neutralize his impact. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.
Regardless, those are questions for another day. For this day, let's appreciate the Celtics going out while putting up a great fight, unlike the other NBA Finals team from last season.
For all five of Wednesday's 2011 NBA Playoff memes, click here.