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We Are All Witnesses To What A Good Team Actually Looks Like

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I know we are all excited, and I know that we will get to the celebrations in a minute, but I would not be doing my job if I did not respect the Basketball Gods. This series, while it may seem that way, is not even close to being over. It can get hard to try and contain yourself, trust me I was on another level last night myself, but the last thing we need to do as Celtics fans is to play with fire. Win Game 3? Go nuts. But until then, all the Celtics have done is what they should have done which is protect home court. Remember it was the Celtics that was the higher seed in this series. We know this team at times looks much different on the road, and we know things will lean Lebron’s way once things get back to CLE, so please, I beg of you, just try and hold off a little longer. We’re almost there.

Now that we got that out of the way, holy fucking shit. This team man, I don’t even know what to say. Actually that’s a lie, I know exactly what to say. The entire basketball world continues to be shocked at how these Celtics keep winning, 7 out of their last 8 by the way, because their entire life they’ve been told that talent is all that matters. That we should all just bend the knee to King James and suck his dick because he’s one of the greatest players of our generation if not all time. Meanwhile the Celtics are just like

They aren’t afraid. In fact it’s the exact opposite, they are not only backing down from Lebron, they know they’re the better team. They know that Lebron is nothing but a basketball bully, and the Celtics saw that when someone stands up to the bully (IND) they have success. So what do they do? They stand up and punch that bully right in the dick. You can’t intimidate this team and it comes through in their play. They aren’t hesitant, they aren’t scared to take and make a big shot, and they don’t panic. The Celtics stay focused, don’t take possessions off and the results speak for themselves. The Cavs are quitting right before our eyes because the Celtics have broken their spirit. Remember, this was the team that had “NO SHOT” to beat CLE heading into the series. If this is what no shot looks like then I can’t wait to hear about how little of a chance they have if they are fortunate to make it to the next round.

And I must remind anyone who doubted, I’m sorry the Celtics Hype train is not accepting new passengers. You had your chance to get on with us a long time ago, and you refused. Sucks to be you. Now, let’s have some fun.

The Good

– All throughout the performance last night of the player we’ll start with, I kept thinking back to one play earlier in the year. The date was March 8th, and if you don’t remember what I’m talking about, it was this play

I’m sure you were as sick as I was when this happened. At the time all I wished for was that Jaylen wasn’t seriously injured, not for basketball reasons but for real life reasons. That was one of the scariest falls I had ever seen. Well, not only did he eventually return, but he’s looked better than ever and was a true unstoppable force last night

He finished with a team best 23/7/3 on 9-18 shooting, and watching him play one thing became clear to me. They cannot trade Jaylen Brown. Not for Kawhi Leonard, not for anyone that’s for damn sure. In a league where athletic versatile wing play is a premium, Jaylen is turning into one of the best young wings in the entire NBA. Not only was he personally responsible for keeping the Celtics in the game while Lebron went off in the first quarter, the more you watch him play the more you see his development. Not just in his improved shooting, but in his improved offensive approach. This is what I care most about when it comes to Jaylen, because when he attacks early and often, everything else opens up for him. It’s why I always can look at his shot chart and know if things were right. Let’s have a look

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One of the biggest improvement in Year 2 Jaylen is that he is so much better at recognizing when he has a mismatch and uses his elite athleticism to take advantage. We saw it against PHI, and we’re seeing it in this series. Every opportunity he gets if he sees someone like JR guarding him, he gets aggressive. I suppose his 5-5 performance when being guarded by Smith is pretty good. So not only are we getting a more aggressive Jaylen, but we’re getting one that also has a jumpshot, making him truly difficult to guard. Again, he’s 21.

– There are times where Marcus Smart can frustrate you as a basketball fan, I get that. There are also a million other times, last night included, that make you want to run through a wall for the guy. There were a lot of impactful players in this game, but none more impactful than Marcus

I say this a lot, but this was truly peak Marcus Smart. He didn’t shoot all that well (3-9) but he finished with 11/5/9/4 and was an insane +21 in his 30 minutes. The Celtics don’t win this game without Smart, and if you were on the fence about this team finding a way to keep him after this season, it’s time to get on board. Ainge needs to match whatever Smart gets in RFA, I don’t care about the tax. He is the lifeblood of this team and the best way I can sum it up is that when the moment gets bigger, Smart gets better. How could you not love that?

– We all remember the dirty JR play, but allow me to tell you what I LOVED about it.

What stands out to you? To me, is that as soon as shit goes down our DAWGS are the first to the scene, ready to take on the entire Cavs team. Two on four who gives a shit, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier are two badass motherfuckers and this just showed how together this team is. You think anyone on the Cavs reacts this way if someone does that to Love? No chance because they all hate each other. This Celtics group is showing what can happen when guys care about each other, and always have each other’s backs. This may have been one of my favorite moments of the entire night.

– You could sense it. You knew the Al Horford haters were ready to flex because for 90% of the game he was quiet offensively. But then when the game was on the line, in the highest of pressure situations, guess who came through

and just like that…back into the bushes the haters went

Playoff Al finished with a nice little 15/10/4/2 and was a starter best +14 in his 37 minutes in Game 2, and when you add it to his defensive production (99 Drtg, team best 4 deflections, tied for 2nd in shot contests) it was a complete effort from a guy that has been lights out this entire postseason. Last year Thompson and Love gave him problems, this year he has completely dominated his matchup with Love, using his size and quickness to bully his way into the paint and finish at the rim. I say it all the time but if I could pay Al more money I would, he’s that important.

– The Celtics are in this position because they have stayed true to who they are. They trust their system and it shows. Here we are, halfway through the ECF and the Cavs are yet to break 94 points. In fact, in their last 11 postseason games the Celtics have kept their opponent to 103 or under 9 times. That is insanity. Last night was no different, as the defense was nearly flawless

What makes this possible is because the Celtics are so versatile and have guys that can guard 3 or 4 positions at a high level, they don’t need to double. We saw a whole lot more of Lebron in the post in this game, and the Celtics never panicked. They stayed true to their defensive scheme. Even when you had situations where Kevin Love had Smart posted on the block, the Celtics trusted that Marcus would figure it out, which he did. When you hold a team like CLE to just 39 points over the final 24 minutes, you are playing some lights out defense.

It’s their ability to defend that is a big reason why this team seems to be shocking the world. We as Celtics fans have seen this all year, while others were worried about how the Celtics would score this postseason, we knew that it wouldn’t matter because the opposition would have to figure out how to do it against this defense. Newsflash, nobody really has.

– Watching the rise of our beloved Terry Rozier has been incredible to watch. From Summer League Terry to now Scary Terry, his growth has been insane

It’s fair to say that for the first half, Terry was pretty hesitant. Knowing we can’t have that if the Celts wanted to win, he turned things on in that 3rd quarter, scoring 14 of his 18 points on 5-8 shooting. The biggest change we see from Terry is where in years past he would miss layups, now he’s just dunking it like a goddamn monster. This is the type of Rozier we begged for at the start of the postseason, and he’s done as good a job as you possibly can being the Kyrie-Lite for this team. He knows no one on the Cavs can stay in front of him, and the fact that he even challenged Lebron with that tomahawk dunk knowing that Lebron is the best chase down block guy on the planet just speaks to how confident he is.

But it’s also important that Rozier be locked in on the other end, and I am happy to report that he gave up just 3 total points. The Cavs collectively were 1-6 when being defended by Terry.

– They said the Celtics wouldn’t be able to keep getting down by double digits in the playoffs and win. I’m still waiting for that to be the case #Theory.

– For the Celtics to win, they need to win the energy categories. Well last night they won the rebounding battle, fast break points battle, points in the paint battle, and second chance points battle while forcing 15 CLE TOs. The Cavs can’t match this sort of energy and fire because they are a team of washed up old people, and that has never bene more clear than it was in Game 2.

I mean imagine how deflating this is for them. You shoot 46% from the field, make 10 3PM, get a superhuman Lebron performance, and you still get your ass kicked. That is why we saw them quit, something we’d never even consider from this Celts team.

– Marcus Morris talked a lot of shit about his ability to stop Lebron. He was mocked. He was doubted. Well please insert your foot in your mouth if you were one of these people

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The shot inefficiency will always be an adventure, but this team needed a wing who would not be intimidated by Lebron, and that’s exactly what Morris is. It’s that fearlessness that helps set the tone for the entire team, so while I’m with you in the frustration we get at times with Morris, in the end it’s worth it.

–  That second quarter Tatum run sure brought a smile to my face

– Just so we’re all on the same page, the Cavs now need to win 4 in a row, and 2 of the next 5 are in a building in which the Celtics have not lost all year. Not only have the Celts never blown a 2-0 lead, but teams up 2-0 in a ECF move on something like 95% of the time or something crazy like that. This isn’t be being a delusional homer, these are simply the facts.

– The Celtics had 5 TOs. Five. They also went 17-20 from the FT line. These are things that bring me joy.

The Bad

– Look just because this was another beatdown doesn’t mean everything went well. For example, the defense looked pretty rough to start, allowing CLE to drop 55 points on 51/50% splits. They couldn’t really stop Lebron early which I can admit, scared the living shit out of me. I had a little 2012 Game 6 PTSD when Lebron hit that turnaround three I can admit it.

– It also wasn’t the best start for Jayson Tatum. It felt like he just needed to take a breath and calm down, because everything was a little forced early. He missed both his shots, had a couple careless turnovers, and for the first time in forever actually looked like a 20 year old. I liked that he stayed aggressive despite his 5-12 shooting performance, but I don’t think it’s crazy to say moving forward if we want to win in CLE, he’s going to have to limit these poor stretches.

– When CLE decided to start Thompson, we all knew the offensive glass would be an area of concern, and for much of the game it was a big problem. I do not understand why this team refuses to box out Tristan Thompson, he only does one thing which is crash the offensive glass. We saw Baynes come in early to try and address it, and even still the Celts struggled in this area. He finished with a game high 4 OREB, and this has to be cleaned up moving forward. You’re playing with fire if you give this Cavs team extra possessions.

– Yabu did not attempt a shot in his 1:21 of action. Brad needs to reassure him that he has the ultimate green light. Especially in a game like this, one Yabu three would have sent this place to the moon.

The Ugly

– Fuck JR Smith for that bullshit. You’re going to try and hurt Al Horford? Maybe the nicest person in the league? I can see him trying this shit against a guy that talks trash and dogs him for being terrible. But Al? It’s disgraceful and bush league stuff. Some may want the league to suspend Smith for this action, but I want to go the opposite direction. The Cavs punishment should be they have to play JR Smith 30 minutes a night, because he has been AWFUL.

So we now have to wait 50 years until Game 3, which is perhaps the most ridiculous thing of all time. We’ll probably get the Foster/Brothers pairing in one of these games so I would take this time and mentally prepare for that. The Celtics have struggled on the road this postseason, but try and remember this was one of the best road teams in the entire league all year. They have the momentum and the confidence that they can beat this team, and all they need to do is split. Win Game 3 and I’ll start listening to sweep talk, but let’s try and take things one step at a time. This team fucks, we know that, and now the rest of the basketball world are witnesses.

Say it with me, 10 down 6 to go.