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Sean Grande’s open for Game 7, Boston Celtics at Miami Heat 06.09.12 at 8:23 pm ET
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Five years ago, the Celtics took the 15 minute bus ride from their Miami hotel, here to American Airlines Arena. The same ride we took tonight. It was the final road game of one of the worst seasons in Celtics history. 58 losses, an 18-game losing streak and no real signs of the clouds parting. Hours earlier, 32 people were killed in a senseless, mindless, soul crushing massacre at Virginia Tech. Riding to the arena that night, I remember wondering if a Celtics game would ever feel like it mattered again, if a Celtics game could ever resonate joy like it had so many times…so many years earlier.

*****

Two weeks ago, the Celtics also faced a Game 7. But it was never going to end there.

The end of the New Big Three era began the second the era itself began. It’s been five years of clocks ticking and windows closing. It’s been three years of trade rumors and rebuilding scenarios.

And yet here, on the 9th of June in 2012. With 27 other teams on vacation, they’re still standing.

The borderline obsession with the end of the era has almost entirely overshadowed the simple fact..that the era itself hasn’t yet ended. Despite the daily question.

Doc Rivers has been asked. So has Paul Pierce. And Kevin, and Ray, all of us have.

Is this the last ride?

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A Celtics playoff kiss from a Rose? 04.29.12 at 3:56 pm ET
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So it’€™s been 20 hours since the ACL-tear that broke Twitter, and likely the Bulls chances of a championship.

Let’s for the moment put aside the blame of the lockout (sorry, I’m not on the bandwagon with this one. Sadly, Max and I have been talking about something like this happening to Rose since he came into the league jumping sideways).  What is striking is how quickly everyone has advanced the Celtics ahead eight wins on their NBA Playoff Chutes and Ladders board.

Hey I get it. It’€™s completely natural to think about a Boston-Miami Eastern Conference Final. Never mind the fact that we’€™re still hours away from the Celtics’€™ first playoff game’€¦in their first playoff series’€¦which is not against Chicago.

And since I’€™m getting all bloggy from a hotel room in Atlanta, I’€™d remind everyone that the Celtics, will not even have home-court advantage against the Hawks, let alone anyone else.  Of course the Celtics came within a couple of rebounds of winning the championship two years ago, playing their third straight series without home court.  But what that team did, beating the top two seeds in the East on the road, was a pretty rare occurrence.

So using my own brilliant idea, and having our buddy Adam (@StatsAdam’€¦follow him if you’€™re in to this stuff) do all the hard work, we came up with this. Since the NBA Playoffs went to 16 teams in 1984, only seven teams have won multiple-series without home court advantage.  Only two (The ‘€™99 short-season Knicks and the ‘€™95 Rockets) won three such series, with those Rockets of course winning four and the championship.

Teams since 1983-84 to win multiple series without home-court advantage:

‘€™10 Celtics: 2 series (4th seeded Bos beat #1 Cle & # 2 Orl)
-Had home-court advantage in 1st round, but won multiple series without home-court advantage

‘€˜09 Magic: 2 series (3rd-seeded Orl beat #2 Bos & #1 Cle)
-Had home-court advantage in 1st round, but won multiple series without home-court advantage

‘€˜99 Knicks
: 3 series (8th seeded NYK beat #1 Mia, #4 Atl & #2 Ind)
-Did not have home-court advantage at all

‘€™95 Rockets: 4 series (5th seeded Hou won title)
-Did not have home-court advantage at all

’94 Pacers: 2 series (5th-seeded Ind beat #4 Orl & #1 Atl)
-Did not have home-court advantage at all

‘€˜89 Bulls: 2 series (6th-seeded Chi beat #3 Cle & #2 NYK)
-Did not have home-court advantage at all

‘€˜87 Sonics: 2 series (7th-seeded Sea beat #2 Dal & #6 Hou)
-Did not have home-court advantage at all

Oh, and by the way, I’€™m all for convenience and saying something that sounds good rolling off the tongue, but for the record, the Celtics do not have the best record in the NBA, or even the East since the all-star break.  That would be the Spurs and Bulls, respectively.  But pulling these numbers, two things jumped out at me’€¦Memphis, and Miami.  Here are the 16 playoff teams since the break….

SAN ANTONIO          26-6
CHICAGO                   23-8
BOSTON                     24-10
MEMPHIS                  22-10
DENVER                    20-11
INDIANA                   21-12
ATLANTA                   20-12
OKC                            20-12
UTAH                          21-13
NEW YORK                19-12
LA LAKERS                21-14
MIAMI                        19-13
LA CLIPPERS             20-15
ORLANDO                 15-16
DALLAS                      15-17
PHILADELPHIA        15-17

Now, why the reality check? It’€™s not to put a damper on the playoff opener for the Celtics as they begin the last ride of the Big Three.  I point out the monumental, long shot task that lies in front of them because if you’€™ve watched this team the last two months, and the last five years, you know, quite simply, they’€™ve got a shot.

Which is all you want this time of year.

And none of this conversation is a knock at the Hawks.  None of it.

Last week during the pseudo-exhibition game the Celtics staged here in Atlanta last Friday, conceding home court by sitting Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Allen and Pietrus, a Hawks employee came at me somewhat bitterly during halftime, complaining about the makeshift lineup that disappointed the crowd and threatened to make a mockery of the game. He felt the Celtics should have played all their stars.

It seemed he wanted to vent, so I let him. But as he walked away I told him don’€™t worry’€¦they’€™ll be here next week.

The Hawks had a very good year, 40 wins, 6th in scoring differential and they did it without their best player.

But be careful what you ask for, you just may get it’€¦ on national television.

Sean Grande’s NBA awards ballot 04.27.12 at 1:56 pm ET
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I’m not sure when exactly it happened.

Media, communication, society, it all changes pretty fast these days. But at some point, probably somewhere between MySpace and Facebook, the concept of anonymity started to become a problem. It was manageable then, the occasional encoded e-mail address and what not. But with Twitter, it’s now an epidemic.

And of course the problem isn’t anonymity, it’s a wonderful thing if you’re fortunate enough to have it. The problem, is that it comes with a certain amount of entitlement. That lack of awareness, fake-tough bravery that usually comes after too much to drink, or for those of us new parents, not nearly enough sleep.

People say the nastiest, vicious, twisted things when armed with a keyboard and the invisibility cloak of the Internet. They are, more often than not, the same people that would smile, shake your hand or ask for an autograph if they saw you in person. It’s a disturbing, ugly trend. I mean, sure it is. But it’s an absurdly small price to pay for the freedom of speech we’re blessed to have and the extraordinary age of technology in which we exist.

There are 100 million people on Twitter. If a few dozen backwards teenagers, bred in ignorance, tweet something offensive after Joel Ward scores the overtime goal for the Capitals, it’s not a story unless we make it one.

Morons have existed from the beginning of time. So has classlessness, ignorance and hate. And they always will. Progress isn’t eliminating them; that’s a noble idea but it can’t be done. Progress is recognizing it, isolating it and going on with life in the real world while the increasing minority of people fueled by race and hate grows extinct.

It’s how we got rid of disco, Members Only jackets and lava lamps. Just give it time.

Anyway, the point is that as big a fan of anonymity as I am ‘€¦ I don’t think postseason award ballots should be anonymous. Never have. I’ve been voting for NBA MVP and the other awards for 14 years now. It’s a privilege, not a right. And I think with that privilege comes a certain amount of accountability. I’ve always made my ballot public and I think everyone should. If you’re ‘€œexpert’€ enough to get a vote, you should be able to defend your choices, that’s all.

That said, I’ll be submitting my ballots to the league shortly, and here’s what they’ll look like.

ALL-NBA

I always begin here. By picking the top 15 guys in the league, it starts my process in picking the five for my MVP ballot.

And the strangest thing about the all-NBA team this year? In fact, the strangest thing maybe about this truly strange NBA season? The center spot. For years now, it’s actually been a struggle to find three centers worthy of All-Star consideration. You’d convince yourself that Tim Duncan was playing center even if he wasn’t, or that Nene was really underrated. It was a struggle. This year, if you call Duncan a center, there were legitimately seven guys competing for the third spot.

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Read More: James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Sean Grande: Not your Garden variety night for Celtics in New York 04.18.12 at 10:59 am ET
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Editor’s note: This is a guest piece by Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande. He wrote the story just before 3 a.m., after the Celtics’ 118-110 loss Tuesday night to the Knicks in New York.

You know what’s a bad idea?

Starting a blog at 3 a.m. But hey, doubling down on Carmelo Anthony and giving J.R. Smith and Steve Novak open looks at 3’s also is a bad idea.

So bad, in fact, it made history.

And that’s really what I’m doing here at 3 a.m., and what you’re doing there, likely early in the morning, maybe putting off the work that you left sitting in your cubicle when you went home last night. Because, hey, if it could wait overnight, it can wait another few minutes.

Besides, it’s going to be a long, long time before we see another one like that.

At 6 p.m., as the Celtics were preparing to leave their hotel in midtown Manhattan, an SUV pulled up in front of our bus. A few seconds later, from the back, emerged one William Martin Joel.

In New York, and the rest of the world, but really in New York, everyone calls him Billy.

He once said, in a song he considered a real next-level breakthrough for him, that it’s either sadness … or euphoria.

And it’s a shame that ‘€œIt’s fantastic!’€ was just so darn catchy, because the NBA could have easily adopted that as its slogan instead.

It’s been a remarkable second half for the Celtics. Their 21-9 record is one of the NBA’s best, Wednesday night on their home floor they can clinch their fifth straight division title, the defense has been the league’s standard and they’ve put together a string of outstanding nights and quality wins that with the playoffs approaching have made people think about what’s still possible.

This … was not one of them.

Big picture, the 118-110 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night may end up just a footnote on a division championship season with the truly memorable moments still ahead in the playoffs.

But these were some remarkable footnotes.

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Sean Grande
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