One of Powe's most valuable characteristics is his resilience, and here's hoping -- and believing -- he can come back. (The injury probably makes it more likely he'll return to Boston, strangely enough.)
I only wish we were so optimistic about his team's current chances without him.
Yeah, we can admit it now -- it's not going to happen this year, even if Kevin Garnett does have a Willis Reed moment in him at some point this postseason. This Celtics' team -- particularly Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo -- carries itself as a champion should, and they are going to be a very tough out in these playoffs. I hate writing them off. But the harsh reality is that if these young Bulls don't get them, someone else will, long before the Larry O'Brien Trophy is awarded.
Garnett's injury was the biggest blow to the Celtics' chances of winning back-to-back NBA championships, but Powe's injury will prove to be the fatal one. The Celtics had just nine -- nine -- points of bench scoring last night. The front line is perilously thin, to the point that Mikki Moore -- he of the Mark Blount hands -- is the top reserve, with Brian Scalabrine, who hasn't played since Feb. 23 because of post-concussion syndrome, attempting to make a courageous -- or is it foolish? -- return in time for Game 3.
There is simply no one capable of replacing Powe, a low-post grinder who is good for a couple of easy baskets per game. Remember, Powe earned his championship ring, most memorably with his breakout 21-point performance in Game 2 of last year's Finals, prompting LA coach Phil Jackson to pretend in the postgame press conference that he didn't know how to pronounce Powe's name. When you've been patronized by the Zen Master, you know you've done something right.
We'd love to see that scene repeat itself this spring. Unfortunately, Leon Powe's season is over, and his team's will be soon. There will be no title defense against the Lakers, no spring rematch. The best we can hope for are a few more victories as fulfilling and exciting as Monday night's along the way. Minus the usual attrition, of course.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.