The Boston Celtics are…
…a nightmare to defend
…seemingly intent on beating themselves
…switchable and adaptable to any situation
…unable to get out of their own way
…amazingly clutch when their backs are against the wall
…mind numbingly unable to maintain focus at any other time.
At some point you are what you are and we’ve seen this story often enough to know that it isn’t going to change any time soon. If the formula holds true, the Celtics will roar back into this series, stumble again, be forced to the brink, and finally prevail in the end. If they do so, it will largely be because their talent overcame their lack of consistent focus.
If they can’t follow that same script and actually lose the series, they’ll have a lot of big questions to answer in the offseason (that’s another column for another day). If they do manage to pull this out, they’ll have a much, much harder path in the Finals against either the well-oiled-machine that is the Nuggets or a LeBron James led Lakers team.
We can’t keep making excuses for this team thinking that they’ll somehow “get it” in time for the next game. They won’t. This is who they are.
The crazy thing is that it might just be enough. There’s a ton of randomness in these results and sometimes talent just wins. You know that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are capable of erupting offensively. Some nights the Celtics just shoot the lights out from 3 and overwhelm their opponent with math. Sometimes the defense has fever dream flashbacks to last year and locks down the other team for entire quarters. Maybe these random positive events will add up to outweigh the mistakes and the Celtics will win just enough games to hang a banner.
Just don’t be surprised if they don’t. Game 1’s result was frustrating but it can hardly be described as shocking. Heat culture defeated Celtic pride. Or in this case you could call it Celtic overconfidence. They can talk all they want about respecting their opponent, but they (once again) got too wrapped up in scoring buckets and forgot about putting in a full 48 minutes of focused effort. I’d love to say that “now they know they have to stay focused against the Heat” but they won’t. If that lesson hadn’t been learned before now, it won’t now.
I’m going to table the finger pointing sessions and blame pie bake-offs till the offseason. There’s no real value to it right now. We aren’t changing coaches mid-series and you can’t trade anyone right now. There will be plenty of time for that later and of course the final result will have a lot to say about all of that.
For now, all we can do as fans is strap in, call up your emotional support buddy, and walk through whatever good luck rituals you think will help. None of this is going to be easy.