Let me tell you a fable of my people that I learned during childhood: two heroes, who once thought they had been killed by their nemesis, find themselves in the presence of Death. These heroes they stare him the face, negotiate against impending doom, and come up empty. These two heroes then devise a plan to beat Death at his own game and when they challenge him, where ultimately they succeed. Their story lives on, where in the end they are most triumphant.
Five NBA teams face the probable death of their season. On Tuesday, the Celtics, the Mavericks and the Raptors went down 0-2 in their respective first found series, joining the Bucks and the Pelicans in the same unfortunate position. For the young teams who have fared well only to be beaten by better teams, Milwaukee, NOLA and Boston fans can already claim the playoffs a success, while Dallas fans have reason to worry, and #WeTheNorth is in hysterics ready to burn down the ACC with Dwane Casey inside. The fable of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan mentioned earlier applies in only one small way: sometimes when you’re dead you’re not dead.
Things To Do, How To Feel, and How to Interact With People When Your Team is Facing Certain Demise
Statistically, down two games in a series is a hole that a team does not want to be in. The saving grace of said hole can be home court advantage, and as lower seeds, the Celts, Bucks, Mavs and Pelicans can follow a reasonable formula to climb back in the series: grab the first game back at home and make it a series, follow suit the next game, and you’re back square. A higher seed dropping two home games spells disaster without a sense of hope. The Raptors now have to go into hostile territory and face the contagious Paul Pierce Playoffs Rage that’s infected John Wall and Bradley Beal for a collective point 56 points in Game 2, including 17 assists from Wall.
Facing adversary, keeping your shit together helps. It helps more than blind loyalty and more than panic-stricken rage tweets. These are difficult times for the Raptors, and right now it’s tough to gauge whether home court is actually any sort of advantage in Toronto. Fans are asking for fireworks when the team is struggling to make a spark, and time in running out fast if it hasn’t already. The time between knowing their fate in the playoffs and staring down a likely end to their season has been a short, feverish four days in the GTA. The rain on the eager fans in Jurassic Park did not quell the passion for the team but it was apt symbolism.
To the larger narrative – that is, the 2015 NBA Playoffs – the Washington Wizards finally revving into high gear after a months-long slump and the Houston Rockets offense finding that same high gear with James Harden on the bench, these things are more important. In those four days, though, positivity died in Toronto, a failed experiment went slowly up in flames in Dallas while their decades-long star may be losing the magic, and — holy shit! — the Celtics sitting on two home games, with Boston fans know how to matter, could possibly maybe mess up the Cavs’ plans of manifest destiny. (Maybe.)
For the teams that went down 0-2 last night, it was a good start for one, a bad start for another and a horrendous start for the third. These teams join the Bucks and the Pelicans, also down two games, both teams heading back home to make a stand. It’s important to remember these teams, down two games but already written off for dead. Bill and Ted came back from dead. The odds were against them, but they made it happen. A weird regular season is begging for an even funkier playoffs but in these series an 0-2 hole likely seals an inevitable feat. Right now is looks like the guests who didn’t think they’d be at the party are making the most noise while many of those invited months ago have declined to show up.
The Mavs and Raptors have real worries. Big changes are coming for both teams, whether sparks finally ignite in their next two games or a playoffs implosion leads to major overhauls in the off-season. Two of the best teams in the first part of the regular season have become the two first casualties of these 2015 NBA Playoffs.