Barstool vs. America presented by High Noon - Season 2 | Episode 4WATCH NOW

The Boston Celtics Do Not Run. They Do Not Hide. They Sweep Your Ass Right Out Of The Playoffs

Nathaniel S. Butler. Getty Images.

You're never going to believe this, but I am happy to report that the 4-0 morning coffee is in fact the most delicious. As soon as the Celts hit 2-0, I needed to know what the 3-0 morning coffee was like. To put it simply, it was tremendous. Then after experiencing a 3-0 morning coffee I became obsessed with what it would be like to taste the sweet dirt water of a 4-0 life. If we're in the trust tree, it was even better than I imagined. Everything about our basketball lives are at an all time high right now. I understand what a dangerous way this is to live. For so many things to be going right at once involving the Boston Celtics doesn't exactly feel right. If you're wondering if I lay awake at night fearing that dropping of the other shoe, you bet your ass I do. But I'm also allowing myself and my brain to go to dangerous places right now. Deal with it. If you don't like it, beat the Celtics. Until then, this is our time. The players have earned themselves the rest before Round 2 and we as fans have earned the right to talk all the first round shit we want until that kicks off. 

What happened to being stupid for getting the 2 seed? I thought it was a mistake to play the Nets in Round 1? What happened to not getting out of the first round? Hello, the Celtics DIDN'T EVEN LOSE A GAME. Not one. Find me another team in the playoffs that hasn't lost a game yet. I have time, look all you want. The scores may have been close but this did not feel like a close series. The Nets were never in control at any point which is most certainly not something I saw coming. I thought the Celts would win this series, but I did not expect Kevin Durant to forget how to dribble. I sort of knew Kyrie would cave because that's all he's done in the postseason since the second he left LeBron. I've lived that life. Putting your eggs in the Kyrie basket is one of the more insane and stupid things you can do as a basketball team. It took a while for the Celts and their fans to learn that, and now Nets fans are learning the same. 

This was not a series win the Celtics lucked into. They took this shit. You want to know why Durant was so terrible? Because the Celtics defense made him play that way. The Celtics won this series because they were better, plain and simple. When it came time to execute, they did. When it came time to lock in and get stops, they did. When they were punched in the mouth they immediately punched back time and time again. It was all incredible to watch and should give anyone all the confidence in the world moving forward. We know the journey won't be easy. We know Giannis is next up and that man is very much a problem. But so is this Celtics team. 

They made it clear they are running from no team. With that type of mentality and their level of collective talent, that's a pretty dangerous team. In fact, it's a team that currently sits a perfect 4-0 to start this postseason. I checked, and it's literally impossible to win a series in a more dominant fashion. With that said, we may as well talk about it

The Good

- Game 4s are very tough to win if you're going for the sweep. Two teams had previously tried this postseason, both failed. While some may have thought the Nets were going to fold and start their vacation, I never really subscribed to that theory. This is still Kevin Durant. He's a prideful dude. I knew that for the Celts to win, we would probably need Tatum's best performance of the series. I dunno if we got that, but it sure as shit was pretty damn close

I think most Celts fans entered this series wondering if this could be some sort of passing of the torch between KD and Tatum. Tatum loves this matchup, he's always been a thorn in the side of the Nets, and after last night's all around 29/3/5 performance on 9-16 (4-6) shooting, it became abundantly clear that Jayson Tatum was the best player in this entire series, regardless of team. He took another leap. 

For the series, the numbers are ridiculous. Tatum finished this sweep with 29.5/4.5/7.3/1.8 averages on 45.6/41.9% splits with 3.3 3PM. The crazy part is it didn't really feel like he shot the ball all that well and yet look at those splits. Tatum was incredible on both ends of the floor in every game leading up to Game 4, and last night was no exception. To have success in the postseason, you always have a chance as long as you have the best player in every series. I didn't hear too many people say Jayson Tatum was the best player in the BKN/BOS series, and my question is would we like to revisit that? I'm sure people will say the same thing for MIL/BOS. I'll say let's just see. 

On a night where the Celts were going to need the best version of Tatum if they wanted the sweep, he delivered. A big part of that was going to be how efficient could Tatum be in a closeout game? Sometimes you force things or rush because you're so amped up and so close to moving on. What's crazy is this wasn't even a game where Tatum dominated inside. In fact, he was pretty bad around the rim

Instead we saw how dominant he can be once his jumper starts falling. If that's the case, you may as well just give up. You're not going to beat the Boston Celtics when Jayson Tatum is making his jumpers. He's too unguarable. The defense is stretched to thin to take away his space, you open yourself up to dribble penetration from everyone else.

We've seen the basketball side of Tatum's dominance before though. What really stood out to me this entire series was his killer mentality. Tatum did not play with his food at any point in this series. He left no doubt. That's the growth that means the most to me and will be important moving forward. I know Tatum is unguardable, that's not news. Just look at how that compares to the two stars in BKN. They showed out for what, one game each? Maybe? Tatum was there every single night. No steps back, only forward progress and wins. You put those two things together and anything is possible.

- Little surprise here this early in the blog, but we're going with Grant next. How else can I describe the series Grant just had other than legendary? His individual defense on KD in Game 4 was incredible. I'm talking 8 points on 31 possessions with Durant shooting just 3-11 shooting. Uh, that's big time.

He was blocking Kyrie jumpers, he was staying with quicker players off the dribble, he was hitting the glass, it was all insane to watch. Then most importantly on the other end, Grant got back to making his open threes. After being in a little mini slump over the final few weeks of the season, Grant responded big time in this first round. He finished this 4-0 sweep shooting 50% from three on 4.0 3PA a night. That's right, I said 50%!

We saw how huge his 3PM were to keep them alive in Game 2. Last night it was more of the same with 4 more 3PM (4-6) with 3 coming in that second quarter. Without those makes, who knows what happens. The Nets started to build momentum only for Grant to close the door repeatedly from his corner office. This is the type of high level two way impact Danny Ainge knew was possible when he drafted Grant. I just can't get over how incredible his defensive positioning was on Durant in this game. He beat KD to every single spot. He hounded KD wherever he went on the floor and never let him get comfortable. His ability to win his defensive assignments without help is so important to how the Celts defense works. When everyone can stay home and on their guy because nobody has to worry about Grant, that's such an advantage.

While Giannis is a completely different player than KD, I feel good about Grant's ability to make his life tough. You don't really stop Giannis, you just try and slow him down. Grant has the strength and the defensive smarts to have as good a shot as any. I'm at the point where I do not care what price Grant asks for this summer with his rookie extension. Give it to him. 

- As I said all series, beating the Nets is simple. You have to rebound, you have to move the ball, and you cannot turn it over. Well, the Celts won the rebounding battle 45-38, they finished with 26 assists on 42 FGM so they smashed the 20 assist target number, and they finished with just 13 TOs (8 over the final 3 quarters). 

The result? They never trailed. Not even for 1 second. In a closeout game with the Nets season on the line, they never had a lead at any point in this game. If that's not the definition of dominance, what is?

- What a difference a year makes. Last year the Celtics went up against a fully healthy Brooklyn Nets team without Jaylen Brown and boy were things ugly. Fast forward a year and the Celtics are once again matched up Brooklyn only this time with Jaylen Brown active and let's see how that looked

Ah yes, it looked awesome. Almost as if Jaylen is a pretty important player! This is a rough reality for everyone who yelled at me for 2 years about how this was a .500 team and to just look at what happened in the 2021 playoffs if I wanted to know what this team truly was. They said you were delusional if you uttered the words "I dunno, they didn't have their second best player for the entire playoffs". Nope, once again, we were right. The Celtics didn't have roster problems last year when it came to their top end talent, they had health problems. Now healthy, we get this. 

This entire series I've felt like Jaylen was extremely locked in. He was vocal about how they weren't running from anyone and he then went out and led by example. That's what leaders do. Afterward, you could have told me Jaylen lost this series if you heard him talk. There was no celebrating, only a continued locked in mindset

When the team needed big buckets once Tatum fouled out, Jaylen was there to answer. It wasn't always perfect, there were some mistakes in those final few minutes, but at the end of the day when the Celts needed a bucket, Jaylen provided it. That's what he did this entire series in the fourth quarter so it shouldn't be a surprise but boy was it massive. Defensively he was solid, there weren't those brutal off ball mistakes that often kill this team's defensive momentum. That's how I truly know Jaylen was fully locked in on both ends and it goes without saying what a difference that makes. 

- There is a reason we love and trust. Nothing has ever been more validating for the majority of Celtics fans than the play of Marcus Smart this season. That's right, I said this season. Not just the last 3 months. The entire goddamn thing. We all knew he was capable of this because we'd seen it before. When Smart is given the keys and the Celts roster is healthy and everyone is active, he's the perfect two way point guard for this roster. At this point, that is no longer a debate

Offensively, Smart has historically killed the Nets and this series was no exception. I'll take 16.5/4.0/7.0/1.3 on 42/31% splits with 2.5 3PM. In last night's Game 4, Smart finished with 11 assists and only 1 TO. I'm not a huge math guy but an 11:1 assist to turnover ratio feels pretty good. Not bad for someone who "isn't a natural enough passer to fit next to the Jays". I think that might be my favorite Smart take the anti-Smart crowd wouldn't shut up about. Hey idiots, open your eyes. Marcus has always been a natural passer, it's what makes him so awesome.

But there's also the defense. You guessed it, we had another dominant DPOY performance from Smart on that end.

For those who may not be keeping track at home, let's have a look at his series head to head battle with Kyrie Irving. You know, the guy I was told was the most skilled point guard in NBA history

Game 1: 26 possessions / 10 points

Game 2: 37 possessions / 4 points

Game 3: 33 possessions / 4 points

Game 4: 30 possessions / 2 points

Quick math will tell you that on a total of 126 possessions matched up against Kyrie Irving, he scored just 20 points. And to think there are people out there who wonder why Smart is the DPOY. Feed me those tears. I'm going to go ahead and declare that it is impossible to have better individual defense on Kyrie Irving over the course of a series. There was all that talk about Kyrie "cooking" Smart in Game 1 despite only scoring 10 points on him, so what did Smart do? He held Kyrie to 10 points for the rest of the fucking series. That is outrageous. 

I'd say we got as close to the perfect version of Smart as you could ask for in this series, and he's going to have to be even better against MIL. But like Jaylen, I find Marcus to be extremely locked in right now

- I love the collective mindset of this team right now. Everyone was asked about dodging the Nets and everyone gave the same answer

They say a team adopts the mindset of their coach, and we know Ime isn't afraid of shit. He wants all the smoke. That confidence in his team has clearly translated to his players and I could not be happier. This is how they talked before the sweep too I'll remind you. It's not like they waited until this was over to talk like this. It was their mindset this entire time and that's why they swept. A perfect mix of confidence, respect for their opponent and a dedication to play for one another is how you succeed in the postseason. 

Sometimes, playing things the right way works out. Now they get all this time to rest and have homecourt against the Bucks in Round 2. You still have to take care of business, but you've now set yourself up for success. Protect homecourt and you're in the ECF. It's that simple. You respect the Basketball Gods, they'll reward you. That much is clear.

- I would like to institute a rule if that's OK with everyone. You see, I love Derrick White paint touches. Good things happen when DWhite touches the paint. Things then aren't so great when he takes a 3PA (9% in this series). So here's my rule. Derrick White must have two paint touches before he attempts a 3PA. I don't care if it swings to him and he's wide open. If he hasn't had two consecutive paint touches prior, I would like him to attack a closeout and take a floater. When White does that, his impact shifts greatly in my opinion.

Once you get to the playoffs, it's OK to settle for paper cuts. Especially in those second unit minutes. I just need points from that group until Tatum comes back in. You do that by taking high percentage looks. Game 4 was a classic example of this theory. When White put the ball on the floor and touched the paint, he got whatever he wanted. When he settled for 3PA (0-5), it was pretty gross. I know he has to take them to keep the defense honest and that's fine, just continue to touch the paint more is all I'm saying.

- The Lob to Rob continues to be the most unstoppable play in basketball

Here's what I'll say about Rob. He's clearly very rusty. His timing isn't quite there yet, his finishing around the rim most definitely isn't there yet, and he's still making an impact. These are all things that will come as he gets more minutes and is back in game shape so there's no need to worry. If anything I'm more encouraged after seeing him these two games. Rob was sprinting and jumping last night like he never had an injury which is a GREAT sign. This series was all about him just shaking the rust off before Round 2, and that looks to be on a great path. 

- Ime pitched a perfect game this series. Let's just call it what it is. His lineup and rotation decisions were perfect, his strategy and approach were brilliant, and his timeouts were right on point. He never let any BKN run get out of hand which is so important when you are playing that type of offensive firepower. You can lose a playoff game with a single run, just ask MIN. Ime made sure that shit never happened and I'd say that was pretty beneficial.

- I think we can all admit that it's a bit of a prayer that the Nets shot 51/40% as a team in this series and they did not win a single game.

I don't have a problem saying that. I mean, that is a little lucky. I'm pretty sure if you told someone the Nets would shoot that well, they probably would think BKN swept. Nope, they got their ass swept. Don't even try and make sense of that, just enjoy that reality and move on.

The Bad

- Nobody is really talking about it, but the Celts had multiple guys who really struggled from three this series. Jaylen shot just 21% from deep, Smart 31%, White 9%, Theis 14%, that shit has to change pretty quickly because I'm fully expecting some regression from Al (60%) and maybe Grant (50%). The Bucks can get hot from three and will kill you in transition of long misses, so let's hope the rest does the Celts some good and those guys can get in the gym in an effort to snap out of their funk. If Jaylen shoots 21% and White 9% in the next series, we could have some issues.

- Yes, I am worried about Jaylen's hamstring. Are you new here? How could I not be? Thank god he has rest because those things linger and for someone as explosive as Jaylen, hamstring injuries are a big deal. He's already dealt with that and missed time this season so yeah, it's a concern and it will be until I see him play again. That's how this works.

- Why did it seem like this team refused to throw the lob to Rob outside of that one Smart pass? Both he and Tatum never even looked his way on drives when the lob was right there waiting to be thrown. It's a pass they both absolutely make a month ago and it was pretty frustrating they kept looking it off and instead tried tougher, more contested floaters. Rob's good, he can jump, just give it to him.

Maybe it's a timing thing, maybe it's because they had to go 3 weeks without it that they just need to be reminded of that option. My guess is they'll see it on film and it won't be an issue much longer. It did feel like this team passed up 50000 layups for 3PA though and that makes me a little nervous. It's OK to take 2s. All that matters right now is points, I don't care what they are.

- We all knew the officiating would be a factor at some point, and for most of the game I thought it was pretty even. Both sides benefitted from bad calls. Then the fourth quarter happened. It could not have been more obvious what was happening

the crazy part was it wasn't even Foster that made the two worst calls! Tatum's 5th (the charge) and 6th foul were called by other refs. Foster made his impact though on the loose ball foul on Horford that he got for simply trying to rebound, but this is the type of shit that makes the NBA look terrible. EVERYONE knew what was happening in those final 3 minutes. The Nets were given every opportunity to take that game and they still couldn't do it.

When even non Celtics fans are tweeting about how bad the end of that quarter was, you know things are fucked. Credit the Celts for keeping their composure.

- 5 TOs to kick off the game certainly wasn't great. Tatum finished with 6 which I also didn't exactly love. They cleaned it up which was nice, but you do this shit against MIL and you're dead, plain and simple.

The Ugly

- You know what? New rule. We used to skip this section once the Celts got to 5 wins, but I am now declaring that if they sweep a series, we also can skip this section. No need to try and force things. They've earned it.

So here we sit, onto Round 2 after a quick 4-0 sweep. They really fucking did it. I still can't believe it happened but boy am I glad it did. This team looks poised for a deep run and I still don't feel like they've played their best basketball yet. That's a scary fucking thought for the rest of the NBA. 

The Celtics are a WAGON and they are just getting started. Buckle up.