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Please Join Me In Saying Goodbye To The 2017-18 Boston Celtics

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Seven

(play on repeat while you read)

If I had to put a finger on why last night’s loss to Lebron was different from all the other losses to Lebron the Celtics have had over the last 8 years, I think a big part of it at least for me was this was the year where we felt like it was actually possible. In 2012, that team was good, but aging. In Isaiah’s first year, when the Cavs promptly swept the Celts, they really had no business of even making the playoffs, let alone competing with a Lebron/Kyrie team. Last year, they were again not as good and were playing shorthanded. But this Celtics team was different. This was one that roped us in and had us believing. This is a team that had a 2-0 lead, a 3-2 lead, and a 4th quarter lead at home in a Game 7. I’m sorry, I thought maybe staring at the ceiling for 7 hours last night would change my mind but it hasn’t. The Celtics blew this series. That’s why this stings so hard. Yes Lebron was amazing, he always is, but to me this is more about the Celtics than it was Lebron’s greatness. I know that sounds silly, but Lebron having a big time Game 7 didn’t surprise me. The Celtics performance did. Losing 4 out of 5 games did, something the Celtics had only done twice the entire season.

I suppose this is a fitting ending when you really think about it. Nothing about this season made sense. How this team won 16 games in a row, how they won 28 road games, how they kept winning despite always getting down by 15 points, why they couldn’t play basketball in second quarters, why Yabu didn’t start, how a bunch of kids could carry a team all year to the brink of the Finals, how their 3rd string point guard could create a cult following, how this team never met a three it didn’t want to take, how guy after guy went down with injuries and they kept on winning, how they had gone undefeated at home. The list goes on and on. None of it made sense, so naturally it makes no sense how this team could all of the sudden shoot so poorly at home to end their season. The feeling we all are experiencing should be a blessing honestly. It was a priviledge to ride this team until near June. Nobody thought it was possible, and while it truly is a punch to the gut that they couldn’t close the deal, I sit here upset, but proud. This was a ride we all would have signed up for the second Hayward went down. It is a little creepy that many people said the Celtics season ended that night in CLE, and here we are 10 months later and their season did in fact end at the hands of CLE.

The next few days will be filled with the rest of the internet taking pleasure in the Celtics loss. That’s fine. We did it to the teams we beat. Some people root for teams that will never experience the run we as Celtics fans just had. Part of the fun is being able to get jokes off, so let them have their fun. Take responsibility, the Celtics blew it, own it, and turn the page.

But before we do that, just like we do after every game and will continue to do until my last breath or they change the login credentials, we must talk about last night.

The Good

– Perhaps the only good thing to take away from last night is we got a glimpse into the future

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Jayson Tatum is going to be a superstar. I am quite confident in that statement. First, let’s look at just how ridiculous Jayson Tatum’s first postseason was in the context of NBA history

*He passed Magic Johnson to become the youngest player to average at least 17 ppg in a Conference Finals

*He had the 2nd most points in NBA postseason history by a rookie with 351. He trailed Kareem by 1 fucking point for the top spot

*First rookie since Kareem to have 10 games of 20+ points in a single postseason. That’s the last 48 years for those counting at home

What we saw from Tatum all year was backed up and then some in the postseason. A time where rookies are supposed to struggle, Tatum thrived. That’s how you know he’s special. In a Game 7, where the nerves get the best of people, he came out right from the jump and showed the was not afraid of the moment. He finished with a team high 24 points on 9-17 shooting, and nearly pulled this thing out all by himself in that fourth quarter. I know things sting right now, but just remember this performance now lives on the internet forever, and will help get you through what is going to be a long as summer.

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– After a disaster of a Game 6, Al Horford was much better last night, finishing with 17 points on 7-12 shooting

It makes me so angry that they were getting this sort of production from Aggressive Al, and the Celts went away from him. You want to give him flack for his second half I won’t stop you, the 1-5 performance wasn’t exactly ideal. But it was also the fewest FGA of any Celtic in the second half. As we could have predicted, that can’t happen if you wanted to keep your season alive.

A 16% usage rate isn’t nearly enough, especially when guys who were struggling like Morris/Jaylen/Rozier all had higher ones. The Celtics had an advantage and they refused to keep exploiting it. When you look at it like that, they have no one other than themselves to blame for what happened. Al showed up, Tristan Thompson had only OREB, he was efficient on the offensive end, his defense was solid, they just didn’t give it to him enough. So annoying.

– You, the readers. Without you this blog would be a lot less fun. Since I first started blogging here three years ago, we’ve gone on quite the rollercoaster together. After each big win, every frustrating loss, I knew I had a responsibility to show up for you stoolies and you returned the favor and then some. As we sit here looking at what should be a pretty exciting future, I can’t sit here and not thank every one of you for the pageviews/tweets/Greenie Bag submissions, all of it. Even that one dude who comments on every blog how much I suck. I appreciate you as well.

There’s a ton of great Celtics coverage out there on the internet.  I feel like we have a pretty unique way of doing it here on the blog, and I hope this ride has been as fun for you as it has for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know these blogs are not short.

The Bad

– OK enough sad bullshit. It’s time to get fucking mad. In a series that consisted of frustrating loss after frustrating loss, this one may take the take. In order for the Celtics to win a basketball game, there are certain boxes they have to check. Imagine checking nearly all of them and still losing. For example

*They held CLE to under 90

*They won the rebounding battle. CLE had 2 OREB

*They had more assists

*They had nearly half as many TOs

*They went up double digits

*They had more second chance points

*They made 1 fewer FG

*They held CLE to 25.7% shooting from three

If you told me all this would happen, and the Celtics would lose AT HOME, there’s no chance I would believe you. None. Zero.

– Call me crazy, but taking two quarter to score 30 points in a decisive Game 7 is not exactly the best strategy. The second quarter, while a pathetic 17 points wasn’t the end of the world. In fact I was almost sort of proud of them for scoring that many. But then to come out in the 3rd quarter and score just 13 points, that’s where things didn’t sit well. We should have known, given the Theory, but still.

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In that third quarter the Celtics came out and shot 25/0%. Terry/Marcus/Rozier combined to go 3-16. Al Horford had 2 FGA. This is where the frustration really kicked in. Look at this shot chartScreen Shot 2018-05-28 at 9.13.52 AM

Oh weird the Celtics actually had some success at the rim but instead let’s just keep shooting it from 26ft. Cool plan. The Cavs were begging the Celtics to pull away, in fact they only shot 35/33%, but because the Celtics were stubborn and fixated on playing like complete dickheads, the exact opposite happened. What was a 4 point lead turned into a 3 point deficit.

– And here’s where I get really mad. Once the Celtics got to the fourth quarter, THEY DID THE EXACT SAME SHIT. In that 12 minutes they took 21 FGA. Guess how many were from three. Do it. Guess. I dare you. The number was 13. You have gone 3/4 of the game unable to hit a three to save your life, you are in the final quarter of your season already down three, and 61% of your shots are from three? Combine that with the defense finally having a bad quarter and CLE shooting 64/50% and no shit things didn’t work out for you.

I have to ask, where was Brad? He was OK with this? Where was the offense? Where were the timeouts to remind them that they don’t ONLY have to shoot threes? To put it simply, the Celtics did not have the mental composure to beat a Lebron James team in a high pressure fourth quarter. They played homerun basketball, something that has never, ever worked out.

– I can be honest, this one stung extra hard

– It’s tough to swallow that in your own building, the Cavs role players outplayed yours. That Jeff fucking Green is the reason the Celtics are not in the NBA Finals this morning is something that will haunt me for months, maybe years. Jeff Green. The same Jeff Green that ruined the Celtics title hopes years before, came back and did it again. While I’m happy for him given his heart condition, this still is utter and complete bullshit.

You just needed your role players to not be horrific. That’s it. They could be bad, they could even be pretty bad. But they couldn’t be an insult to the sport. Guess which one we got.

– 16-3 fast break points in a game in which the Celtics had just 5 TOs. You tell me how that makes any sense.

– Until further notice, nothing really changes. Lebron still owns this team. This is why you can’t miss 15 layups. This is why you can’t miss 9 FTs. You give him life and opportunity, he wins. Period.

The Ugly

– At this point I don’t really know what to say about the Jaylen/Rozier/Smart/Morris group. They lost the Celtics this game. Combined they went 13-56 (23%) and 5-32 (14%) from three. I don’t even know how to spin this. Those numbers are SHOCKING. The Celtics went 3/15 on wide open threes, and honestly the Celts were lucky they didn’t get blown out given that CLE missed quite a few as well.

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For a collection of guys that had played so well this entire postseason, they sure picked the worst possible time to turn into pumpkins. Even if 90% of the game they stunk, as soon as Tatum made that three with 6 minutes left I can’t believe they didn’t change how they played. Instead, we got this

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So yeah, they blew it. If this was any other team we would say they blew it, so just because it’s the one we root for doesn’t change that.

– For the first time in franchise history the Celtics lost a series they were up 2-0 in.

– Anyone who thinks that Lebron block on Terry was a foul is simply being salty. When the refs let you go mano a mano at the rim, you live with the result. Not only did Lebron make contact with the ball first, but it was not the first time Rozier had challenged Lebron only to get it sent to the moon.

– Only 140 days until mid October. Should be here in no time.

 



So as we close the book on the 2017-18 Boston Celtics season, I guess at the end of the day we should be thankful. Only one team wins the whole thing at the end of the year, and while this was an ending I think we all wish was avoided, as Brad says the pain is part of the path. These are things you have to go through as you try and climb the mountain to reclaim your spot as an NBA Champion. But I also know there are some of you out there that are like me, don’t care about any of that shit and are simply pissed the Celtics gave away their spot in the Finals.

While nothing is ever set in stone, the pieces are in place. Ainge has some tough decisions to make this summer, but before you know it Summer League will be here. Then preseason arrives and boom we get to see what this roster will look like fully healthy.

The 2017-18 Celtics were an incredible story, one that will always have a lasting impression on me. Next year, let’s just work on a better ending.