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The Celtics End Their Season With A Fantastic Comeback And It's Officially Go Time

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Well…that was emotionally exhausting. I’ll have a full playoff breakdown in the coming days, but first we need to talk about last night. Sure, there is a downside to the result, but this is a happy place where we will focus on one hell of a fucking comeback. Please act accordingly.

I don’t really need to tell you, you’ve been paying attention, but the Celts have been playing like dogshit since that fourth quarter in ATL. Low energy, bad decision making, and worse results. We all remember the CHA debacle on Monday, so it was safe to say last night was a big, big game. Sure seeding was at stake, but the Celtics desperately needed to get back on track heading into the playoffs if they wanted any chance, no matter who they’d play.

With how this game started, people were jumping off the bandwagon left and right. They probably won’t admit it now, but it’s true. You know it, and I know it. Look I’m not going to make excuses for the Celts and how they started this game, in fact, I was irrationally angry…again. But here’s the thing. That’s why it’s a 48 minute game, and not a 12 minute game. And sorry, if you jumped off during those first 12 minutes, you are not allowed back on. Tough shit.

One quick thing before we get started. I know the Celts playoff path is a little harder than we hoped, and in the heat of the moment I called it the worst case scenario. In the hours since, I’ve sort of talked myself into it. Bring on the challenge. Nothing with this team has ever come easy all season, why should the playoffs be any different. Let’s see how for real they are.

Now, to the porn.

The Good

– On opening night, the Celtics came out slow against the 76ers and scored 21 points in the first quarter. Not exactly how you want to open your season. Well, in the third quarter they got off to a fast start, had a great quarter, and scored 28. I thought hmm.

The next night in Toronto the Celts hung with TOR in the first quarter, shot the ball well and got off to a good start. Tied going into the half and shooting well (28 in the second also), things seemed great. Then the third quarter happened. The Celtics struggled mightily scoring just 21 points. Completely shit the bed. A slow third if you will. I thought hmm.

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Two days later against SA, the Celts scored a robust 13 points in the opening quarter, all but sealing their fate. Well. They came out of halftime and won the third quarter. Sure they would still lose, but there was a time during their run where it was actually a ballgame, a fast third. I thought hmm.

By the time they were struggling through another slow first quarter in ATL a few weeks later, only to come out and score 35 points in the third quarter, I was certain. Who knew what would happen moving forward, but this I knew to be true.

A fast Celtics start usually meant a slow third quarter. A slow Celtics start usually meant a great third quarter. I don’t know why it works, but it does. Some things are just bigger than us, don’t try to understand it.

All this brings us to last night. You cannot have a more pathetic start to a game than what the Celtics turned in (more on this later). But deep down, we knew what was coming. We had seen it time and time before in the 81 previous games. A slow start equals a great third. Well, wouldn’t you know that’s exactly what the fuck happened. 26 point comeback, easy as pie.

When the Celtics went 3-22 in their second quarter against CHA, I was convinced that was the worst basketball I have ever seen in my entire life. Then the Miami Heat went 2-20 and scored 5 points. Jesus Christ do they stink. Celts would have fucking swept them. Looking back it’s sort of crazy. The season ended almost exactly how it started.

– So how did they do it. Well, they woke the hell up that’s for sure. Right from the start of the quarter the energy was noticeably different. For the first time all night the Celts actually played like the more desperate team. They got stops. They forced MIA to shoot the ball, and remember, they stink.

Credit Brad, he rode his starters in that third quarter, no second unit player played more than 2:54.

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– Also continuing the season long trend of Evan Turner’s +/-. When it’s a positive number, the Celtics almost never lose. Last night? +3. Result? Win. His fourth quarter was fantastic, and helped seal the deal. Turner is going to have a lot to do with how this team performs come Saturday and beyond, and that terrifies me.

– Thank the sweet lord the curse of #47 didn’t happen.

– Does this sound like a guy who gives a shit where he plays? If Brad ain’t scared I’m not scared. Bring on ATL, bring on Lebron.

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– Despite having a lack of size, the Celts won the battle in the paint 60-52, throw in the fast break points difference (18-6) and just 7 turnovers, and that’s a recipe for success.

– Aggressive Olynyk is my favorite Olynyk. We saw Kelly put the ball on the floor a lot last night, and he did a great job of moving without the ball and putting himself in positions for easy baskets. Kelly is big for the second unit, so this is the Kelly we need.

The Bad

– Do I have to? I don’t want to, but there were real problems last night. For example, let’s talk about Sullinger’s shot selection. The hell was he thinking? He practically shot the Celts out of this game early, and not by missing post moves. I’m talking about him being broke as a joke and still bombing away with long 2s.

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What’s annoying about this isn’t only the shots he was taking, but the situation in which they came. During that first quarter the Celtics desperately needed points, and instead of going inside where he is a way more effective, he settled, and as a result struggled.

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– I didn’t think we’d see another performance like we did on Monday, and yet, here we are. That first quarter defense was absolutely atrocious. No rotations, no effort, no communication, and bad body language. Almost identical to what we saw against CHA. A 25-9 score with four minutes to go in the first shows you that the Celts didn’t bring their defense onto the floor to start. MIA shot 58% to open, and got whatever shot they wanted. If this sort of shit happens this weekend, we’ll have problems.

– We know the Celts struggle with size, and MIA’s 14 OREB proved that point. I suppose that’s what happens when Sullinger only has 3 rebounds and none of them come on the defensive glass.

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– I don’t know who makes the decision, but I better not see these parquet jerseys even one time for the next few months. That’s right I said months, deal with it. The Celtics have the best uniform in sports, stop trying to make this happen. The people have spoken.

– Stupid Atlanta

– We talked about it, but 5-24 for 13 points is the opposite of what you want to do. It’s absolutely crazy that the two worst shooting performances of the Celtics season (that I can remember) have come at home, while rested. If we can’t shoot at home, where can we shoot?

The Ugly

– There’s no sugarcoating it. It is some absolute bullshit that the Celtics can be 3-0 against MIA, with every win coming by double digits, and it’s all for nothing. Still have the tougher road to travel. Because make no mistake about it, Celts breeze by MIA.

But hey, they have themselves to blame. They controlled their own destiny and blew it, this is the price you pay. Let’s just pray we somehow get the prayer of all prayers and get to play them in the ECF.

 

And so it begins. Saturday night cannot come soon enough. This is what we’ve been building for all season. This is what we live for. This is what I blog for. Now we get to see if it was all worth it. The 86 Celtics had to go through the Hawks. So did the 07 Celts, this is our right of passage.

Official countdown is set at #16. Let’s hope it works again.

 

P.S.

I couldn’t end the season without a quick thank you to those who actually make it this far in the blog. My first full year was an absolute blast, and I truly appreciate those who read every day after. Hard to believe the season is already over, and fortunately for us, things are about to get a whole lot better.

Oh, and please buy a shirt.