Good morning everybody. How are we feeling today? If I could describe how I feel waking up and living that 3-0 life, it would probably be like this
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure anything tasted better than my 2-0 morning coffee but I have to concede that the 3-0 morning coffee blows it out of the goddamn water. I now need to know what a 4-0 morning coffee feels like because hand up, I am addicted to winning. My name is Greenie and I have a full blown addiction to kicking the shit out of the Brooklyn Nets. I'm big enough to admit that so credit to me. This is all just so incredible and rather insane if we can speak about this series honestly. You may have been someone who thought the Celts would win this series, but this? In this fashion? Not even I saw this coming and I mainline Celtics Kool Aid for a living. The crazy part about all of this is I really don't think we've seen this team play their best yet. There are more levels to get to! I always thought the Celts were going to have to play at their best and maybe overachieve a little bit to handle the Nets offensive firepower.
Wrong. Dead wrong. Couldn't have been more wrong.
There have been stretches where we've seen it. Some individual matchups have been incredible, there's no denying that. But as a collective group? I've seen these very Celtics play much better than they have so far in this series, and they lead this shit 3-0. I did the math, I used the Pythagorean theorem and all that shit. I brought out my TI-86 that had all my formulas saved on it to cheat during tests to make sure I carried the 7, I took the necessary square roots, and it all told me the same thing. It is literally impossible to start out better than 3-0 in a 7 game series. I suppose this is where I tell you that teams up 3-0 are 143-0 in NBA history. So with that information, I went back into the lab. I ran the numbers with that data and yup, that's also pretty damn good. First round teams are 43-0 when up 3-0. A total of 89 of those 143 were done in 4 games. That is the life I now need to live.
Now I know maybe you don't want to do this right now, but I need to remain consistent. We have to keep things in perspective. It's hard, you want to declare this shit over and I beg of you, be patient. 3 wins are not 4 wins and you need 4 wins to move on. Close out wins are the hardest to get in any series. Respect the game, respect the opponent, respect the series, and good things will happen. That has been made abundantly clear by the Basketball Gods. Nobody understands the urge to talk all kinds of shit more than me, but that was for the immediate high of last night. Now is the time to take a deep breath, enjoy the highlights, read all the stories, but understand that there is still more work to do.
As long as you can do that, I encourage you to keep reading, because shit is about to get all kinds of erotic and I apologize for nothing.
- I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but I think we're all watching Jayson Tatum make the hardest leap an NBA player can take. The discussion was always "Is Jayson Tatum a top 10 player"? Imagine saying no to that question. Anyway, that shit is old and outdated. The question now is simply "Is Jayson Tatum the best two way player in the entire NBA"? The answer? He's getting there
All you have to do is look throughout NBA history and you'll see that to win a title, you pretty much need at least 1 top 5 guy. That's just how the NBA works. We are watching Jayson Tatum take that step. It's becoming an undeniable fact with each performance and it's as if every single one of our wishes for Tatum is coming true. He's a battle tested 24 year old that for this entire series has been the best player on the court in a matchup that includes Kevin Durant. It's not even relatively close. I'm talking a Grand Canyon sized gap between Tatum and anyone else in this series. Last time I checked Kevin Durant was regarded as the best player on the planet, so that feels pretty decent.
We wanted to see Tatum come through in big moments. Check. We wanted to see him be a leader. Check.
We wanted to see him with a killer mentality that all the greats need to have. Check.
We wanted to see him show up on both ends of the floor and lead by example. Motherfucking CHECK.
How insane has Tatum's defense been this series? It hasn't just been All NBA caliber, it's been DPOY caliber and that is not an exaggeration. He has taken the best offensive player on the planet and put him in his back pocket. Last night, it was holding Durant to just 2 points on 37 possessions. This is immediately after Game 2 where he held Durant to just 4 points on 44 possessions.
I'll do the hard part for you. If you add up all the Tatum/KD matchups from this entire series, you will see
Game 1: 38 possessions / 4 points
Game 2: 44 possessions / 4 points
Game 3: 37 possessions / 2 points
That's 110 total possessions and 10 total points. Are you kidding? Is this real life? No, I am not kidding and yes this is real life. Tatum's ability to play this caliber of defense is what elevates him into the rarest of air. If you look at the list of players that have Tatum's level of offensive talent mixed in with this type of defensive ability, there are like 2 or 3 names on it max. I was led to believe that nobody on earth shuts down Kevin Durant. I was told to just wait for him to show up and dominate and look like the regular KD. So I have to ask…where is it?
Can you believe we haven't even gotten to the offensive part of Tatum's night yet? That's how incredible he was that it's taken us this long for me to remind you that he outscored both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving by himself (39 vs 32). In the second half, he nearly doubled them both up (27-15). When it came time to close the door in the fourth quarter, Tatum carried with 14 points on 5-8 shooting while playing all 12 minutes. He didn't even shoot that well in this game either! He finished with 44/30% splits which tells us he can be even better. Do you know how terrifying that is when Tatum just did this
and it's not even his ceiling? My god I need a minute to compose myself.
- I've often said there is one very cool part about having both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on your team. For a long time, many couldn't see the light. They wanted to hop on the Celtics slander train when things maybe weren't the best and just said what all the trolls and talking heads were saying while they rubbed their nipples.
I don't know how many times I had to say it, but I'll say it once again
The coolest part about having Tatum and Brown on your team is that you have both Tatum and Brown on your team.
You see because once Tatum heads to the sideline to catch a breather, the Celts have the privilege of just playing through Jaylen Brown. What a luxury that is
We've grown accustomed to First Quarter Jaylen over the years mostly because pretty much every Celts game he played in, we saw Jaylen be a force to start us off with some sort of awesome first quarter performance. So far in these series, he's morphed into Fourth Quarter Jaylen and I can't say I am upset with the transition. Lord knows this team needs all the help it can get in the fourth, and it seems like the plan can be just give the ball to Jaylen and get out of his way.
So far in the 4th quarter of this series, Jaylen is averaging a team best 9.3 points on 63/66% shooting while playing around 11 minutes a night. He's a team best +2.3 in the fourth and has delivered in each of the three games of this series. When things were tight, Jaylen was there. When they needed him to cap off a comeback, Jaylen was there. When it was a game like last night where they just needed to maintain some separation and not have an epic fourth quarter collapse, Jaylen was there.
This is the 1-2 punch that Danny envisioned and most of us knew was always there. We've seen Tatum/Brown dominate together in the postseason before which is why I never understood anyone who uttered the words that they should be split up. This is the best young duo in the NBA! Argue a wall about that. It's very clear that BKN does not have a single defender that Jaylen has to worry about, and he's not even shooting that well from three this series. It hasn't mattered.
The second it became clear that there were mismatches to exploit, Jaylen took over. This is the problem teams will face against this Celtics team. If you have a defensive weak link, it's going to be attacked by two elite offensive players in Jaylen and Jayson. All the credit to Blake for playing his ass off, but that's BBQ chicken every single time for someone like Jaylen.
- I'm not really sure what more can be said about this team's defense other than the last time I've seen something like this from a Celtics team, they won the goddamn title. It's 1-5 devastation for whoever is on the floor. There is no weak link for an opposing team to attack. Even Payton Pritchard is holding his own! What we're seeing is Ime's system work seamlessly with the roster that Brad has built. They can't attack the Celts in P&R because you're switching from a DPOY in Marcus Smart to a player in Jayson Tatum who is playing at a DPOY level. There is no matchup to exploit no matter who switches? Jaylen? Ok. Horford? Sure. Grant? Good luck. Rob? What are you asking for death? It's incredible to watch everyone be on such a string, and that only happens by having elite communication.
Everyone knows their assignments, everyone knows the gameplan, there's great communication and even better execution. We've seen the strategy of being super physical with KD off ball, making sure he doesn't have an easy path to any spot on the floor. Smart hedging, creative ways of shutting down entry pass lanes, getting into the Nets players' body at all times, it has collectively taken their best players out of this series.
- What a wild ride this season has to have been for Payton Pritchard. From DNP-CDs at a time when the Celtics literally couldn't win a game to now in April having multiple huge playoff moments
He's essentially turned into a secret weapon. All the Celts have to do is build a small lead, then they put Payton in and before you know it he's made a couple threes and things have extended to 10+. Now that he's been able to not be a defensive liability, you can play him and when he sees the floor you know he has the ultimate green light. I feel as confident watching Pritchard take any three he wants as I did during the Ray Allen era. That seems insane but all I can do is tell you what I feel in my heart.
- The key to beating the Nets is simple. Rebound, move the ball, and don't turn it over. All you have to do is look at all the areas the Celts dominated in this game and you understand why they are up 3-0.
They won the rebounding battle, they had 26 assists, they won points in the paint 50-42, they won the fastbreak points 25-9, they turned 18 Nets turnovers into 37 points, and they only allowed one quarter of over 30 points.
The ball movement is what I loved most. As we know, the Celts just have to break the 20 assist number and a win is pretty much guaranteed. To see them finish with 26 and three separate players have at least 5, that's exactly how this team needs to continue to play.
- Al Horford made 1 shot all night, shit he only took 2 FGA, but man was it a gigantic shot
Playoff Al is something different, I don't know how else to explain it. On a night where he was very quiet offensively, he stayed ready. He was present in the moment, didn't rush, and came through like he has so many times before in the playoffs. Things were getting a little iffy at that point of the fourth quarter and the Celts desperately needed someone to make a huge momentum shot to calm everyone down. Like a good father, Al was there to deliver for his sons.
- I dunno about you, but I could not wait to see what Rob looked like. I knew they wouldn't play him if he wasn't ready to roll, but sometimes it takes guys a little bit to get past the mental part of coming back. I'd say it took Rob about one up and down before he started to look like the same old Rob
They were able to keep his minutes under 20, I thought Rob not only looked good on his initial jumps, but the secondary jumps as well. You could see that just being on the court made the Nets players think twice about coming into the paint/attacking the rim and that just goes to show the true value of Rob. It's not just the blocks he actually gets. It's the fact that nobody wants to even consider fucking with him at the rim that makes this defense even tougher.
We'll now wait to see how his knee responds, but all signs point to Rob being the same old Rob and I cannot stress what a massive deal that is for the ceiling of this basketball team. They are now 28-7 and 15-2 on the road when they play games using their normal starting 5 players. They almost never lose!
- I'm at the point now where I do not care what the price is, overpay for Grant on his rookie extension if you have to. I've seen enough. The work he's doing defensively and on the glass has been a huge factor in this series and he's shooting 40% from three through 3 games. What more could you want from a reserve big? Grant's Year 3 transformation is why you should never give up on young players who maybe get off to a slow start. Now look at him.
You're telling me you wouldn't take 10/4 on 55/40% splits with 1.3 3PM a night with plus defense? Of course you would.
- We also cannot stress enough how incredible Ime has been in this series. I know it doesn't take much to out coach Steve Nash, but Ime is pitching a near perfect game. His rotations, his strategy, his timeouts, they've all been near perfect. The team has fully embodied Ime's confidence and it's reflected in their play. Ime isn't scared and as a result, the players are not scared. They told us as much heading into this series and have immediately backed it up.
All you have to do is see how this team comes out in third quarters while the games are still close. Shit, even in Game 2 they came out firing despite being down. You sometimes forget this is Ime's first time through a playoff series as a head coach because each and every game it seems like he's pushing all the right buttons. He said it best postgame
What we are watching is a complete team, and that team is a fucking wagon.
- Remember when the haters and losers of which there are many tried to suggest that Kyrie Irving cooked Marcus Smart in Game 1 despite what the actual numbers showed? That was fun. We had Heat meme pages on Twitter crying about DPOY. It was glorious. Let me ask you though, what do you see?
Jail. You see someone locked up in jail serving a life sentence. Remember when a bunch of butthurt Bucks and Heat fans cried and cried and cried about how Marcus Smart didn't deserve DPOY or that it was the worst DPOY in the history of the NBA?
Fucking weep. We're seeing why Smart was a deserving DPOY. All you have to do is open your eyes (this also includes some Boston media as well. Just stop fighting it and accept your defeat). This is why we love and trust.
- I don't ask for much, I really don't. Can we just have a game in which the Nets don't shoot 50/40%? That's what is so insane about this series. The Celts defense has been good, even elite at times, but the Nets are still making shots. That has to be so deflating for them.
It really comes down to their two best players being taken out of the series, but it's not as if the entire Nets roster is being shut down. They finished last night with another 50% performance as a team. I'm going to need the Celts to figure that out, even though they only allowed 103 points which is great. Too many times did we see the Celts lose the Nets shooters like Curry and especially Patty Mills late. All I'm saying is let's not pretend like the Celts have been flawless defensively, there's certainly room for improvement.
- The offensive rebounding is also getting a little concerning. Hopefully, that tightens up with Rob back, but the Celts did not go a great job of protecting their own glass. Horford had just 2 rebounds in 28 minutes. The Nets secured 12 OREB which led to 14 2nd chance points. Way too often are we seeing Nets crash the glass from the weakside, grabbing the OREB, and then scoring. You cannot keep giving Kyrie/KD extra possessions. That is not how you beat this team, you need to make sure they are one and done. It didn't matter if it was Drummond, Brown, or Claxton, they all feasted on the glass.
- I wouldn't say the Celts were all that great from deep as a team (12-39) which is 30%. That's the crazy part of this series, they aren't even shooting the ball that well! I also felt like they once again fell into the bad habit of going for homerun knockout threes to start the fourth quarter. You don't need that shit. When you have a 6-8 point lead over the Nets, all you need is paper cuts. High percentage looks close to the basket. They switched things up to end the quarter and ran away with it. It's not a huge deal, but that is how you start collapses. You think "let me just make a couple threes early to bury this team" and that's not something I want this team to do moving forward. If you make a three? Great. But attack and be aggressive first.
- The last 90 seconds gave me a heart attack, I can't lie. Smart got a little trigger happy towards the end, they lost their assignments defensively and we almost nearly had quite the disaster on our hands. That's the kind of thing where even though they are up 3-0, Ime will have shit to yell at them about during film sessions.
- I'll keep this short and sweet. Please stop turning the ball over. Tatum had 6 which is far too many, and the starters accounted for 11 of the 14. You turn it over like this in a playoff series, you won't always be so lucky. This has been a problem for the last few months if we're being honest, and the deeper the Celts go in these playoffs the more that shit will matter.
But listen, 3-0 is 3-0. They can now smell blood and we as fans can smell the sweep. I didn't think I'd be typing those words yet here we are. What an incredible run by an incredible team and the best part is there are no signs of them slowing down. If anything, they are just getting started. Bring me Monday night, I am ready.
LET'S FUCKING GO.