Holy heck, the Boston Celtics are fun to watch. Kyrie Irving unleashed, Jayson Tatum on the rise, the passing and shooting touch of Al Horford, all coupled with the arrival of Jaylen Brown as a FORCE to be reckoned with make them one of the most exciting teams in the league. I spent last night watching the game vascillating between the extremes of “oooooooh, this is gonna be fun come June,” and “WHAT THE F— ARE THE REFS DOING?!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???”
[I know this signals that I’m too tightly wound around the triumphs and travails of my favorite team, but after the game last night, I felt like I’d been magically transformed into a baby chipmunk, captured by the refs, slung into a pillow case, and violently swung against a steel door for about half an hour. So, thanks sports-fandom for giving me that awesome feeling in the pit of my stomach on a Thursday night in November.]
But, stepping away from the immediacy of last night’s
debacle loss, I’d like to return to the reality that the Celtics are much-watch entertainment right now. Seriously, if they can keep this up, and if they can finally find a way to break LeBron James’ (ridiculous) seven year run atop the Eastern Conference, and then if the Warriors can pull it all together and get back to the Finals themselves (no easy task this year with the way the Rockets have been playing, plus the inevitable late-season Spurs push), wouldn’t a Warriors vs. Celtics Finals be so much more fun than a rematch vs. the Cavaliers?
Holy heck, I can see it now.
We laughed when Kyrie Irving demanded a trade. We chuckled when he basically proclaimed that he needed to spread his wings away from LeBron. Seriously? You’ve been to the Finals three years in a row. You’re playing alongside one of the best players of all-time. You wanna throw it all away so that you can go out and try and prove yourself on your own? Why turn your back on such a good, guaranteed, proven, powerfu— oh. Ooooooh. Okay. I get it.
Kyrie knew he could be great. He knew he could achieve another level. And running Brad Stevens’ disciplined ball-movement system has been perfect for him. No longer is he standing in the corner, hoping LeBron kicks him the ball. Now, he has a team full of dangerous, athletic, young gunners surrounding him. He can initiate the action. He can control not only the shape and movement of his team, but the shape and movement of his own destiny. He has arrived, finally. He’s not the 20 year-old kid we saw struggle to a 24-58 record starring in a misshapen backcourt with 21 year-old Dion Waiters.
And the scary thing about the Celtics? Last night, Kyrie Irving wasn’t even their best player on the court. That award went to second year player Jaylen Brown, who posted a stat line of 22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks while leading the Celtics on a furious comeback from a 17 point deficit. More impressively, he did all that the day after his best friend from high school passed away. He was so stricken with grief, he almost didn’t play.
As he said in his postgame conference [via boston.com]:
“Probably two, three hours before the game, I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do it.' Brad [Stevens] was perfectly OK with it. He was like, ‘Basketball in these types of situations…’ he said, ‘Take as long as you need.’ And then I called him back, and I said, ‘I want to get this win. I want to be there for my teammates.’ And he was like, ‘I’m OK with that, too.'”
Man, that’s tough. What a performance by Brown, who in his second season is already proving to be not only a force on the court, but a powerful presence off the court as well.
I was at the draft at the Barclays Center when Danny Ainge took Brown third overall. When the pick was announced, all of us were — to put it bluntly — shocked. I don’t remember seeing Brown higher than like seventh on any of the mock drafts. But, perhaps we should all remember: Don’t question Danny Ainge. When he passes on Markell Fultz, maybe you should also pass on Markell Fultz. When he claims Jayson Tatum is the best player in the draft, and picks up an extra first round pick just for the trouble of trading back to get him, maybe we shouldn’t mock the man. Sheesh, the hits just keeping coming for the fella in green, huh?
Either way, and regardless of what happens the rest of this year for the Celtics, they are primed to compete at the top level of this league for years to come. They’ve rallied around one another after the horrific Gordon Hayward injury. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, after being thrust suddenly into the spotlight, have both been better than we ever could have predicted.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are 8-7, and have looked old, tired, and disinterested for much of this early season. Again, yes, it’s eeeearly. But I’m not the only one who thinks a Warriors vs. Celtics Finals matchup is looking like a strong, enticing possibility.
Curry on the possibility of facing the Celtics in the Finals:— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 17, 2017
"I hear the weather's great here in June." pic.twitter.com/CvcuMPs7mL
Again, who knows how this season plays out. But the Celtics, long-term, are suddenly far more terrifying than any other team in the league. As our friend Patrick pointed out on GSOM Slack:
If that image is too small, he said:
“Also I wasn’t convinced by Boston previously but I am a convert now. Next year with Hayward back and Tatum not a rookie they are going to be a legit threat. Especially with another high draft pick in the next couple of years. Just praying they don’t have the assets for AD...”
That. Would. Be. Scary.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Celtics?
This poll is closed
Patrick McCaw (aka: Nate, vote here)
Other (answer in comments)