Cleveland and Boston square off tonight in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course Orlando and Atlanta may also have something to say about that, but no one can argue that it isn’t a distinct possibility.
That said, many basketball fans will be tuning in to this matchup even though it doesn’t involve their home team.
Laker fans are no different, so I’d imagine many of you are like me and will be eagerly waiting to see how this plays out.
Here’s where I stumble, though. As a Laker fan, we go through a sort of anti-Celtics indoctrination along the way. Wearing the color green can be a negative thing for the hardcore Laker fans. The rivalry is deep and the 2008 Finals still feel like yesterday to many of us. Winning the Finals in 2009 was great, but many of us feel it was bittersweet since we didn’t get to win over the team with which we so desperately wanted retribution.
Enter the 2009-2010 season and things seem different. The Celtics have fallen from the top unexpectedly and are now clinging to third place, 6.5 games behind Cleveland and only half a game ahead of fourth-place Atlanta. The team has lost to teams it shouldn’t lose to, and they simply aren’t as dominant as the used to be.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, have become the NBA team to beat. They have the league’s best record, and look to be in much better position to steal home court advantage from the Lakers. Lebron is having an amazing season and the Cavs will be a legitimate title contender with a beefed-up roster due to some key moves before the trade deadline (How much do you want to bet that big Z magically winds up back in Cleveland?).
So therein lies the problem: Do we hope for a Celtics loss like we’ve always hoped for in the past? If so, that means we are actually favoring a Cleveland win! On the other hand, we can think logically instead of emotionally and hope for a Cleveland loss since it has a clear direct effect on the Lakers. Doing so means that we have to (gasp!) hope for the Celtics to win. Can you bring yourself to actually do that?
I was watching a football game with a friend one time and he didn’t like either team at all. They were division rivals of his hometown favorite. I asked him who he was cheering for in the game and his response was priceless: “I’m hoping for non-life-threatening career-ending injuries.”
I guess that’s one way to go about it.