After what felt like a never ending hiatus, the time has finally come. With the Celts leaving today for what hopefully is a 3 month stay in the Orlando bubble, it's officially go time in the pursuit of an NBA leading 18th championship. They enter Orlando healthy, Hayward has his video games packed, Tatum has his fresh cut, they have the 4th best title odds and just as good a chance as anyone to make it to the top of the mountain. Everyone is in the same boat, nobody has any idea who will handle the bubble the best, but if there's one thing I know it's that this will be the most challenging playoff run of our lifetimes. When else has every playoff team been 100% healthy and well rested with the threat of a virus lurking around every turn that could cost you a star player in a big playoff game?
For this team to be successful a few things obviously have to happen. Kemba's knee needs to be a non factor. He needs to play at his pre All Star break level for the duration of their stay. That's not debatable. Gordon Hayward needs to show he can be consistently aggressive and not this passive player who just stands in the corner holding his dick. Jayson Tatum needs to back up his play as a true #1 option on a title team. Jaylen needs to defend at a high level and not have mental lapses. Theis needs to figure out a way to defend without fouling. Brad needs to remember he can fucking call a timeout to prevent a 20-2 run. The list is long for sure. But most importantly, this team needs to prove they have the mental toughness to handle this weird environment. Whichever team does that the best will have the most success. Resisting temptation to go mess around with other players in the bubble and instead just stay in your room for 3 months. This is the best chance the Celtics have had at a title in a lonnnnnnnnnnnng time, but can they take it seriously enough to capitalize on that opportunity? That's what I want to see. We know they have the talent, but in this situation talent may not be the most important thing.
I am dying to see what team we get once things are up and running in about three weeks. Will it be the team that beat MIL, LAL, LAC? Or will it be the team that couldn't stop Ish fucking Smith and the Wizards. Or the one that lost to the Suns at home or let Caris LeVert drop 50 on their home floor. What we know is that the Celts had 14 wins against teams .500 or better this season which was the second most wins in the East. They were 28-14 with at least 1 day of rest in between games. They are one of the few teams in the league with a top 5 offense, defense, and net rating.
On paper they have the win profile of a legit contender, so now we get to see if they can actually come through. It's happened a total of one (1) times in my 33 years on this planet, but fuck it. I believe.