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Lessons In Panic: Celtics Can Learn From Patriots

A middling 12-12, the Celtics will need to figure things out like the Patriots did on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

So, I’m watching the Celtics in the midst of losing on the road to the Chicago Bulls. The C’s may still pull this one out to improve to a whopping 13-11. But down by nine after three quarters, it just feels like the high-energy, Derrick Rose-less Bulls are going to drop Boston to .500.

I’m trying not to panic. For once in my sports fandom, I’m trying to be levelheaded. Rational. Thoughtful.

It’s quite challenging.

But after the New England Patriots clawed their way back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the San Francisco 49ers, I finally have a shining beacon of hope to latch onto. In the microcosm of Sunday night’s NFL contest, I have an example for how the Celtics can figure things out and turn their record around.

I came to this conclusion when thinking about Doc Rivers’s visit to the Patriots locker room two weeks ago before New England’s game against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Rivers raved about all the tips and tidbits he was able to take away from observing the Patriots prepare and execute Bill Belichick’s game plan. Belichick similarly glowed about sitting in on the Celtics, citing Rivers’s motivational tactics and the way the whole Celtics organization operates.

It was an intriguing instance of interdisciplinary cross pollination: two championship caliber coaches from two regional franchises taking the time to learn from one another despite the differences in their respective sports. Why couldn’t I do the same?

And so I sit here as a Celtics fan, Boston now down by 11 – oh, make it 14 – working very hard to learn my own lessons from my more successful Patriots fan alter ego. After a miserable first half ridden with turnovers and three-and-outs, the Patriots turned it around to torch the Niners for 28 straight points to tie the game.

The Celtics have suffered a similarly miserable start to their season, barely over .500 and unable to string together any semblance of consistent play. While the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets lord over the Atlantic Division lead, the Celtics jostle with the Philadelphia 76ers for third place. It’s immensely frustrating.

But I’m doing my best not to do that thing I always do as an overly emotional sports fan. Overreact. Pout. Throw in the towel. Much like Tom Brady’s, the Celtics’ track record and pedigree is unquestionable (at least since Kevin Garnett arrived). If I could hold my breath Sunday night waiting for Brady to start methodically marching down the field on scoring drives, I should have the wherewithal to be patient with my NBA team of choice.

After all, we’re talking about a team that was hovering around .500 at the All-Star break last year (15-17, to be precise) and ended up being within minutes of an NBA Finals appearance. If any team can pull it together over the course of a season and shape up just in time for the playoffs, it’s the Celtics.

A little more practice time, some additional game play, and the Celtics can follow the Patriots’ one game example and reverse their fortunes over the course of the entire 2012-13 NBA season.

Of course, now the Celtics are on the verge of losing their third in a row, down by 20 with just over two minutes left in Chicago. But instead of getting all worked up (sigh), let’s just take a moment to regroup and rationalize this miserable loss by finding the correlating moment in the Pats-Niners game. Considering the Celtics just coughed up a W in their 24th game of the season, this feels like Shane Vereen’s fumble at the end of the first quarter.

So rest easy, Celtics fans, it’s still only 7-0, and it’s only the end of the first quarter- there are a lot more possessions to score on.

Let’s just hope the Celtics arrive at a better end result than the Patriots did Sunday night.

The Patriots’ season isn’t over, 8 quarters of regular season left followed by at least 4 quarters of playoffs, and neither is the Celtics. The Patriots still have time to correct their bad habits and make a Super Bowl run, and we’ve only seen the Celtics play 24 of 82 games- the future is unwritten.

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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