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The Celtics Are Now On The Verge Of A Sweep Despite Being Underdogs In Every Game

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Three

If you had to choose, what do you think is more embarrassing? Thinking the Sixers were actually going to compete in this series, or dropping the confetti simply because you tied the score? You know I heard a lot of talk from Sixers fans when they closed the regular season beating tanking teams, and then again once they destroyed the Miami Heat. For some reason though, I don’t hear them anymore. Could it be because the Celtics have exposed The Process as frauds? That they really aren’t as good as their fanbase and ESPN and Vegas wants you to believe? I say yes.

Earlier in the series I tried to warn my fellow Celtics fans to take it easy, a 2-0 lead was nice, but there was still more basketball to be played. Things could swing in PHI’s direction at any moment. But after going into their arena and crushing their soul not one, but twice, I think it’s OK to get excited. This shit is all but over and the fact that the Celtics might not lose a game this series is the cherry on top. Funny how things change, one minute the Sixers were the favorites to come out of the East, and now they can’t even get past a team missing all it’s best players and it’s leading scorer playing on like 1.5 legs. Instead it’s the Celtics who have looked like the better team from the opening tip of Game 1, and I don’t know how you cope with that as a Sixers fan. Imagine thinking The Process finally arrived only to get worked like this? Imagine having to keep talking about the Super Bowl to cover up for your incredibly embarrassing basketball team? That sure is sad.

So here the Celtics are, one win away from returning to the ECF for the second year in a row. And honestly if they get there and get killed by Lebron, who cares. The fact that they have killed the Process before it even starts would be good enough for me given everyone that’s out. But before we start talking about ECFs, let’s talk about last night

The Good

– Look you break something Larry Bird did, you get the top spot. Those are the rules. Jayson Tatum now has 5 consecutive playoff games with 20+ points, and boy did he look great in his 24/5/4 on 11-17 shooting last night

To those who haven’t watched much Celtics this year, they may have wondered how a rookie could be so good in these huge moments late in games. For those who did in fact watch this team all year, it was the least surprising thing ever. Tatum proved to be this team’s second best fourth quarter player after Kyrie, both in terms of points and shooting percentages, and last night in the 4th and OT he finished with 13 points on 6-9 shooting. He gave us everything, from nailing bit time shots right in Ben Simmons’ face, to taking on the responsibility of being a #1 scoring option in a hostile environment, it’s no surprise Tatum led the team with a +24 in his 41 minutes. It’s clear that the Sixers do not have a body on the roster that can guard him. He once again exposed Robert Covington time and time again and for the series Tatum is averaging 24 points on 55% shooting.

24 points on 55% shooting!!

What I loved about Tatum’s night was his approach. Of his 11 FGM, just 3 of them came outside the paint, and one was basically at the FT line. He is being aggressive and using his length to get around defenders at the rim. and next year once he actually gets the foul call respect he deserves, things will look even better. For a series including two stud rookies in Tatum vs Simmons, there is no question that Jayson Tatum has won this battle by unanimous decision.

Oh and Tatum also had then best Drtg on the team at 76.1. Excuse me while I go change my underwear.

– Does anybody have a problem with how much money Al Horford makes now? Honest question. Have you seen enough? I mean he only had 13/6 on 5-12 shooting, so I know there are some people who look at that and say it’s not worth a max. I’ve seen people say that all year. Meanwhile the rest of us are just like…

The best part about Horford is he can go from being essentially a non factor offensively in the first half, but given everything else he does still make an impact. Then, when the game is at it’s biggest moments, he’s there. Take the offense out of it, the defense he played on Embiid the whole night was a huge factor. When it was all said and done Embiid went 4-12 against Al, and just like I tried to explain before things started, Horford has given Embiid trouble all series. The reason is because Al is a smart and capable defender, and to be honest Embiid is a bit predictable. That is why you saw those blocks last night. The Celtics don’t really need to double when Horford/Baynes match up with Embiid because they trust their ability to hold their ground. This enables the rest of the Celts to stay with their man and not get caught with lazy rotations leading to open PHI threes.

THAT alone is worth all the money in the world.

This team has looked to Horford to be their leader and he’s stepped up just like he should. Now having seen this in back to back playoffs, it sure is a brutal time to be an Al Horford hater. You hate to see it.

– I think heading into Game 3 we were all a little nervous how Terry would look on the road. He has been two completely different players this postseason based on where he’s playing, and given how he started Game 3 it didn’t help calm my nerves. Not the best shot selection. But then he took a breath, hit an open three, and the next thing you knew he finished with 18/7/3 on 7-15 shooting

If Terry has figured out how to be effective on the road, look the fuck out. And as fun as the offensive highlights are, the biggest takeaway for me is how Terry continues to take care of the ball. Another game with 0 TOs, and Rozier played a team high 44:28. I don’t think he’s turned the ball over in the fourth quarter for like 2 months or something crazy like that.

On the defensive side, Brad had Rozier guard Covington on 29 possessions, the most of any Sixer. The result was an 0-6 shooting performance. All Sixers went just 4-15 against Rozier. So not only is he efficient and in control on the offensive end, he’s also engaged on the defensive end making things tough for anyone he guards. That is HUGE. Between Covginton and Belinelli, Rozier guarded them a total of 53 possessions. They had 4 points.

– Speaking of great defense, sure he got dunked on about as bad as you could, but Aron Baynes continues to be the perfect center for this team. Embiid may have won the battle with that dunk, but at the end of the night he went just 6-13 against Baynes, who filled his role to perfection

He was solid defensively, he did his thing on the glass, and hell he even made a three. I know at times there was a debate where the Celts should invest their money between Baynes and Monroe, and I’m not sure that’s even a question anymore. Baynes is the PERFECT goon this team has been missing for years.

– Imagine what things look like once Jaylen gets healthy if this is what they look like now?

Jaylen finished with a respectable 16/9 on 6-12 shooting (3-6 from deep) in his 29 minutes, and things would have been even better if he wasn’t on that minutes restriction. Watching the development of Jaylen has been awesome, especially with how much he’s improved shooting the basketball from deep. You watch those clips and look at the confidence he goes up with. His mechanics are a million times better, his release more compact and quicker, and what that does to open up the rest of his game cannot be overlooked. If teams are going to have to respect his jumper, he is just going to use his athleticism to blow by you and finish at the rim.

Remember, there are those who think PHI has the better young talent. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

– My formula for Celtics wins is pretty simple. It comes down to rebounding and defense. When they address those two areas, they almost always win. Well, the rebounding came in at 50-49, and from a defense standpoint PHI ended the night with 39/30% splits, under 100 points, and the Celtics did shit like this

These are the Celtics I know and love.

– What more is there to say about Brad Stevens? With the game on the line, twice, and the team looking to Brad to find a way to win it he came through with two huge ATO plays. The first to get Jaylen that layup which was a beautiful set, and then the Horford game winner. I can tell you personally I had never been more confident that Brad would pull something out, it’s why he’s like 1B in terms of best coaches in the league.

And it’s also OK to admit that we needed to see something like this from Brad to justify how we all feel about him. He needed to win on the road, and now that they pulled it off as a direct result of his coaching, I feel unstoppable.

– Before we move on I just want to give Shane Larkin a quick shoutout. His extra effort play in that OT is the type of stuff that doesn’t get talked about with all the other big plays that happened during the game, but is in my mind just as important

He only played 14 minutes, but they were a BIG 14 minutes. Just want to make sure he got the proper credit.

The Bad

– At some point the Celtics are going to need Mook to snap out of his funk. He was another 3-14 in this game, and for the series he’s a total 6-34 (32%). His three point shooting isn’t much better, coming in at 28%. Don’t let the 3-0 lead fool you, Morris is extremely important to what this team does moving forward, and his offense for whatever reason hasn’t been there. He’s missing a shit ton of his open looks, and while the Celts have been able to survive without him, I would really love for him to have a breakout game in Game 4. If anything just for his confidence moving forward, because if the Celtics do advance, they desperately need his points against CLE.

– Great look from your two best players if you’re the Sixers

Embiid got his ass handed to him and cried that he didn’t get any fouls, and then Simmons unable to admit that when he got that OREB with 18 seconds left me made a bad decision. They are young, and the Celtics are exposing that.

– It’s not complicated, the Sixers really only score in two ways. They dump it down to Embiid, or they score with transition threes. I get not being able to completely stop Embiid from scoring, but the amount of times the Celtics lost guys like Redick and Belinelli in transition was unacceptable. A lot of it was their own doing too, you turn it over against this team you are just asking for trouble, so I didn’t love the 8 first half TOs leading to 10 PHI points. Totally blew things in that second quarter. Shocker!

The Ugly

– Even though we can now joke about how the end of regulation went down with the confetti and all that, it still does not ignore the fact that AGAIN the Celtics could not defend an end of game out of bounds last second shot. It’s almost as if they didn’t learn their lesson against MIL when Middleton hit the 35 footer with like 0.4 left. The Celtics are verrrrrrrrrryyyy lucky Belinelli didn’t find the line, because if he did this series has a completely different feel. You just can’t have these type of mental lapses at this stage of the season. One shot is all it takes. I know Rozier got held/slipped but even still that was extremely poor defense. Fortunately it ended up not making a difference but that doesn’t mean I have to allow it.

– I know when you’re on the road you expect to get boned by the officials, but a 20-14 foul difference was pretty ridiculous. The Celtics had 4 FTA for like 75% of this game, and that’s with guys like Tatum being aggressive and nto just settling. The Celts had to deal with foul trouble all night, even lost Smart and had four guys with at least 3 fouls. What all the sudden they forgot how to play defense? Meanwhile, just Embiid had more than 1 foul of any Sixers starter. I counted at least 4 times a Celtics player was hip checked coming off a little switch at the top of the key, you could hear even Doris Burke was confused as to why nothing was being called. All I ask is for some consistency, why is that so hard?

– I’ll just leave this here

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 10.02.45 AM

So we now move to Monday night. A chance to sweep the series and rest up for CLE. Sort of crazy to think about when you look back at everything the Celtics have gone through this season. It’s almost as if the Basketball Gods are making up for it and for that I am thankful. Now the Celts can’t just assume things are over, they need to come out in Game 4 as if they are down 3-1 in my opinion. Don’t even let this thing get back to Boston and give PHI and their scumbag fans any sliver of hope. Step on their goddamn throats and be done with it.

In the meantime, we will continue to celebrate. Let’s GO

7 down 9 to go.