I turned 24 yesterday. It was a pretty low-key birthday honestly. I hung around and wrote some stuff, and focused on cleaning up the social media accounts and tried to organize this work in progress that I’m calling a site. I was flooded with calls, texts, and messages from family and friends so it was nice catching up… but really the only thing that I looked forward to yesterday was the Celtics opening up in the house that LeBron built (and then selfishly abandoned, and then came back to).
“What a sick gift this would be?” I told myself a shit-ton of times. It was all set up perfectly, the Celtics finally have a team I believe can beat Cleveland in a 7 game series, Kyrie and Gordon are going to show out, the young guns in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are going to introduce themselves to the entire league while dunking on LeBron’s head, AND SKINNY MARCUS SMART. I was FLOATING all day in anticipation.
Annnnnnnnnnnnd that floating sensation was short-lived.
I already wrote about Gordon Hayward going down HERE so I’m not going to elaborate more on that, but that sucked eggs. After Gordon went down the team looked shell-shocked the entire first half. Guys missing open layups, defense not switching on assignments, Skinny Marcus shooting exactly the same as Fat Marcus and almost breaking the backboard on a couple three-point attempts. Everything sucked about that first half. The Celtics went into recess down 54-38
Funny thing about basketball that almost everyone seemed to forget is that 2 halves make up a whole basketball game. MATH. All I saw after that first half was posts, tweets, and clips of everyone saying this team is finished. Charles Barkley even said that THEY WOULD HAVE A TOUGH TIME BEING A TOP 4 TEAM IN THE EAST.
Even all the “fans” on my timelines packing up their shit and figuratively heading home from basketball season quicker than when you see someone from your old high school days out in public and you have to leave the store so you don’t have to deal with the “How’s life?!” conversation as if you both care.
Brad Stevens’ basketball teams do not quit, and their calling card is the level of effort they give no matter the situation. The Celtics showed that in the second half. The offense stopped settling for shitty threes and Marcus Smart started to do the things that he does best by being a dog on defense and emasculating opposing shooting guards in the post… Ahem, Kyle Korver.
The Celtics went into the 4th trailing by one. During the entire final quarter of the game, the Celtics did a lot of great things on both ends of the floor. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum did, in fact, introduce themselves to the league. Jaylen with a career-high 25 points and Tatum becoming the first Celtic to record a double-double in his debut since some old guy named Larry Bird… Kyrie went on a tear in the fourth quarter and at one point was full on Untucked Kyrie, that was a sight to see.
In the end, though, the Celtics had a chance as time ran out to tie the game up with a three and missed both attempts including a desperation shot from Kyrie at the buzzer that fell just short… The Celtics shot an abysmal 8-32 from three (25%).
There are no moral victories in sports, I will always stand by that. However, this team could have absolutely mailed it in after Hayward went down. If you watched the game you could see and feel the atmosphere just leave the building for a while and the Celtics looked devastated. I credit them for having the heart to gather themselves at the half and fight until the end.
Here’s the thing… The Hayward injury is bad, we all understand that but by no means is this team dead. If you think they’re done, see ya, didn’t want your bum ass on this wagon anyway. Is a championship in the cards this year? Nope. Can they beat the Cavs in a playoff series without Hayward? Nope. I’m a realist. But I refuse to call it a completely lost season after game 1 of 82, and you should do the same. The Celtics are right back at it tonight against Milwaukee for the home opener.
Kyrie wanted SO BADLY to be “the guy” and the undisputed leader of a team, and now he has his biggest challenge cut out for him. Brad Stevens is going to find a way to get the most out of this team, believe that. Enjoy the ride, hope for a speedy Gordon Hayward recovery and put that God damn panic button away.
We gon’ be alright.