The One That Got Away – The Boston Celtics Lose Game 7
Jayson Tatum

While most people spent their Memorial Day Weekend in usual fashion filled with drinks, sun, and debates over what’s going to be song of the summer, I spent it looking towards Game 7.

I was looking at Game 7 before Game 6 even tipped off Friday night. To say I was a fanatical wreck leading up to tip-off last night would be an understatement. The Celtics being at home was a crutch that too many leaned on.

Especially when LeBron James is on the other side of the floor.

The Celtics ultimately didn’t have enough to close this series out and move onto the NBA Finals… I’ll get to my ode at the end. For now let’s run it one last time this season.

There For The Taking

There’s a popular phrasing that goes around the sports world after an ugly game like last night. It goes like this…

[Insert Team A] didn’t win it…. [Insert Team B] lost it….

It’s another easy crutch to lean on even when it does hold some weight. I hate doing it especially when it comes to the teams I root for so I’m not going to change it up now.

With that said, the Celtics sure as shit had their chances to win this basketball game. In a season where we have seen these young Celtics rise to the occasion and take advantage of teams who fail to show up for a full 48 minutes… This was shocking.

The Cavaliers seemed to hit multiple stretches where they could hit the side of the backboard if they were close enough to lick it. These are the kinds of stretches where the Celtics usually step on the throat of their opponent and bury them.

They didn’t… Instead they did some weird mirroring act and refused to hit as many key shots as the Cavs did.

The problem with that against a team like Cleveland is that if you let them hang around like the Celtics did last night, they’re eventually going to wake up.

That’s the simplistic summary of this game. The Cavs woke up when it mattered, and the Celtics stayed asleep. Then when the Celtics tried to force themselves awake they panicked, rushed, and ultimately fell short. A series of rushed shots, defensive breakdowns, and missed free throws allowed the Cavs to cash their last paycheck of this season before it bounced.

Death By Three Ball

The Celtics were an actual 7-39 from three point land. That is not a typo and I wish more than anything that it was. If the Celtics just shot average from three they win this game but that’s the way it is in this game now.

Every analyst on TV spews that stupid phrase of “It’s a make or miss league” and it makes me want to gouge my eyes out… Of course it is, idiots.

The Celtics missed and as crazy as it is to be in a position to criticize some young guys on this team, here we are.

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are going to feel the sting of this one for a while. This is the kind of game that they’ll need to hang onto in order to get better and make sure it never happens again.

3-22 from three combined for Rozier and Jaylen. They just didn’t have it. They couldn’t get it going when it mattered. The looks were there and they just didn’t hit. I really didn’t have much of a problem with the shot selection from the entire team last night but if you get those kinds of looks you need to hit them.

I have no idea what it feels like to be in a Game 7 and I never will so I can’t ever speak to the kind of pressure that a young KID feels in that situation.

In the end there wasn’t enough production from those two in order to put the Celtics in the best possible position to win this game. They know that. These two will watch that film and cringe at the missed opportunities.

Now it’s time to hope that they use the feeling of losing a trip to the NBA Finals to come back ten times better.

Our Rookie The Star

This was the moment of the night for me. The performance that Jayson Tatum put on last night was something to behold. There were so many moments throughout this entire season where we started to tell ourselves that Jayson Tatum was a star in the making.

That performance last night got me to really say that Tatum has become a star. I don’t want to just be lost in the moment with this kid and last night. I know that the sample size is still so small in the grand scheme of what it means to be a star.

Come on, though. This kid is unbelievable and what he did last night was absolutely incredible. He was poised, confident, and fearless. Every time the ball got into his hands you felt like he was going to make the right play.

Jayson Tatum was on the biggest stage of his life to date and he wasn’t about to go quietly into the night. LeBron James said postgame that Tatum is “Built for stardom” and he got a firsthand look at that build when he got dunked on.

For so many other Celtics young guns who didn’t show up last night, Jayson Tatum shouldered the load just like he has for most of the playoffs. He’s built for greatness that much is sure.

I’m just glad he’s going to be in a Celtics uniform for a long time.

Tipping My Fitted Hat

As much as I want to sit here and use that quote from above and say the Celtics lost this game and the Cavs didn’t win it that would be too petty even for me.

If you’re going to enjoy as many championships as this city has given to us, you better be ready to give credit where it’s due.

LeBron James was himself as expected. He will always perform like this when his back is against the wall and last night was another example. The impact that LeBron has on a basketball game like this is just unbelievable to watch.

Every time your team has the ball you’re still looking to see where LeBron is because you’re expecting a ridiculous block (when he decides to try on that end). On the offensive end even when George Hill handled the ball I was looking to see what screen James was going to come off of it and make his move.

He’s the greatest player in the world right now. I won’t start in on the debate of him versus Michael Jordan. I’m just going to sit here and say good game.

I wish LeBron was the only one I had to give credit to but Jeff Green deserves free drinks in Cleveland for life. His number was called and he answered. Green was inserted into the lineup with Kevin Love out for the game and he made the most of his opportunity.

Once Green finally got it going the rest of the Cavaliers found their way on the parquet floor. JR Smith hit huge shots at pivotal moments (God that makes me sick). Tristan Thompson continued to be a problem on the offensive glass. The Cavaliers are led and carried by LeBron but nobody can say that last night wasn’t a team win on their part.

On To The Next… Dammit

This sucks. It really really sucks writing this blog this morning. Don’t get me wrong I will sign up for this heartbreak over and over again. My relationship with Boston sports is synonymous with actual relationships I’ve had where no matter how low it was or where it went to, you’d sign up for another shot time and time again.

Enough of that for now though, I can’t be getting in trouble again.

I saw so many people last night talking about how the future is so bright and that this was house money the Celtics were playing with. No Kyrie, Hayward, Theis in the mix and that this team is going to be the team to beat for years to come.

Those people are absolutely right.

I also saw people fuming mad that the Celtics missed a golden opportunity to go to the NBA Finals and that we should be angry at them for pissing this chance away.

Guess what? They’re right too.

You’re allowed to feel both things today because I sure as shit do. I’m going to rewatch this game at least 3 times this week before the Finals tip off. There will be so many moments that we’ll rewatch from this game and know that the Celtics had this game in their pocket.

That’s the most frustrating part about last night and honestly it’s the most frustrating part about facing LeBron James in the playoffs so many times.

The Celtics had what it took to win this basketball game. I can’t say that for last year, or the year before. Even back in 2012 when that Celtics’ team was one win away from the Finals it was a team of aging stars that were on the back 9 of their runs as star players.

Last night I truly felt like this team was going to get over the hump and keep LeBron James out of the NBA Finals and they just didn’t get it done.

I am THRILLED for the run that the Celtics are about to go on when this team finally gets healthy. The future is brighter than it’s ever been for this franchise and we should be so happy about that.

We’re also allowed to look at last night and say that it was the one that got away. I wanted this win so bad last night. If you were to tell me that I could have one win between last night and the Patriots winning the Super Bowl a few months ago I would take this win a billion times over.

I know that’s crazy to most Boston sports fans but that’s how badly I ride with the Celtics. These are my guys every day of the week and twice on Sundays. To have a chance to beat LeBron James who has haunted your team since 2010, that’s a win that I wanted more than anything.

Yet, here we are in an all too familiar place. Does it sting a little less because of how set up the Celtics are for the future? Nope. Not right now at least. I hope it gets there but I’ll think about this one for a long time.

We’re all on to the off-season. I hate to be a pessimist but I think the NBA Finals are a formality. Whoever wins the West will win the Finals and I’m not moving on that.

The 2018 playoff run was the most fun I’ve had as a basketball fan since 2010… It’s unbelievable how long ago that was and I still remember the feeling of that run. It ended in somewhat similar fashion too.

This is one of my favorite Celtics teams ever and I thank them for the run.

These young Celtics provided a lesson that’s constantly taught to many. It does not matter if nobody believes in your team and if you “Aren’t supposed to be here”. You just keep doing what you do best and believe in the people around you. If you trust what you do then you can go on a run like this. So much of the NBA is calculated and you know exactly what’s going to happen before it even starts.

The Boston Celtics made a gigantic crack in the dent of that mold and they were a couple shots away from shattering that mold all together.

They’ll be back.

 

AirGinge

Just doing the damn thing, one Boston sporting event at a time. Founder of Boston Bench Mob. Mid-range jump shot enthusiast. Believer of the TB12 Method. Mozzarella sticks for life.

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