I know you’re out there, so fess up.
You’re a basketball fan who falls into one of three categories: You either love the Boston Celtics and hate the Los Angeles Lakers, or embrace the Lakers and despise the Celtics, or throw poison darts at both of them.
Well, I hate to break this to you, Jim Mora breath, but you may be very disappointed this spring.
Playoffs?! You mean the Celtics and the Lakers won’t be in the playoffs?! Both of them?
With Rajon Rondo done for the season and the Lakers in uncharted territory, maybe so.
That’s right — for the first time in a long time, the two greatest franchises in pro hoops history might have to sit one out. If the second season were to begin today, the Celtics would sneak in as the eighth and final Eastern Conference seed, while the Lakers (19-25) would in the rough somewhere. At 21-23, the Celtics own a precarious 2 1/2-game advantage over the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 8 spot, while the Houston Rockets lead the Lakers by four games in the race for the Western berth.
Incredibly, only once in Association history have the Celtics and the Lakers not advanced to the playoffs in the same season. And that’s a lot of history — 65 years to be exact — a period that dates back to the 1948-49 season in the Basketball Association of America days and includes the dozen years that the Lakers spent in Minneapolis.
Yet as the season moves to the second half, the Celtics and the Lakers have the look of old, tired teams whose best days are behind them.
The Celtics took a six consecutive defeats into the game versus the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, the first time that had happened in the Kevin Garnett era. To lose against the Chicago Bulls or the New York Knickerbockers is no biggie. But to the Detroit Pistons? The Cleveland Cavaliers?
Even when the Celtics win, they lose. Before their 100-98 victory Sunday against the Heat in double overtime, it was disclosed that point guard Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) would be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Rondo is the one player they could least afford to lose, as there’s no dependable back-up behind him.
Now the question is, will general manager Danny Ainge start to break up the nucleus before the trade deadline or attempt to reload after the season?
As for The Team Formerly Known As the Lakers, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s tentative or emotionally spent or just too dang old. At times, they’ve appeared to be all of the above this crazy season. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash may bound for the Hall of Fame, but it may be too much to ask of any team with a new head coach and a new system and four starters older than 31 years old to put it together in a matter of months.
Meanwhile, this season has taken on some of the characteristics of the 1993-94 campaign, the first and last time the Celtics and the Lakers were 82 and done.
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