The Celtics are Finally Dead

Jae Crowder

Well, that was close. I almost, almost, starting getting my hopes up. Celtics lead by 10 at the half in last night’s game 4, after winning game 3, without Isaiah Thomas. The Cavs looked like the shitty team that they were all season. They didn’t care on d. The offense was just “give it to LeBron or Kyrie and get out of the way.” Celtics were playing lockdown defense, the ball was zipping around, and they were actually making open 3s. But, the universe soon corrected itself and the Cavs won going away. Kyrie took over, proving that, despite what people may tell you, it’s possible for a team to have more than one good player. In fact, that usually what makes the good teams good. Honestly, it’s better this way. About two minutes into the second half, I could already see the end result coming, so I knew better than to start dreaming of a possible sweep of the Warriors. This series couldn’t be going better from my perspective. They got dominated so badly the first few games that it showed they weren’t just one guy away. They somehow didn’t get swept, saving some pride, but also didn’t get me too invested in their actual chances of winning the series. Now just get through game 5 without Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley, or Brad Stevens suffering a life threatening injury and we’re all good. Draft Fultz and look forward to 2020. But man, what happened in game 3? Supposedly LeBron was fighting an “illness” so he sucked, but I don’t buy that for a second. Unless, of course, the “illness” is just the standard aftermath of what happens when you spend a late night out with J.R. Smith. Had the Cavs swept, there would have been nine days or something between last night and the start of the Finals. Why can’t they just move it up? Well, it’s hard to say. Maybe David Stern the league made it worth the Cavs while to drag this series out as long as possible so that all the talk about how bad and one sided these playoffs have been is quieted a little bit and to minimize the dead period. Maybe they said they’ll be even more lax on LeBron’s drug test results how frequently they sit their players next year. Maybe they told them they’ll get even more calls in the Finals than they usually do. Maybe they just told LeBron that they’ll ensure he doesn’t have to hang out with Kevin Love for a while. Either way, I’m keeping my eyes open on this. I’m officially calling the validity of game 3 into question, regardless of the fact that it benefitted me.

Of course, all of this has presented quite the dilemma: what to do with Isaiah Thomas. Next season he’s still the best bargain in the league, only making $6 million. The year after? Whooooo, baby, is he going to get a lot of money. Will it be from the Celtics? Honestly, I don’t know if I’d want to commit to him long term. Listen, he’s proved me wrong a million times on the offensive end. He can score on anyone and everyone, no matter what. And, obviously, he’s tough as nails, physically and mentally. But, he really is horrible on defense. Like, really really bad. And the way this team is currently constructed, does it really benefit them to give max money to someone who can’t play d? Last night was a perfect snapshot of what the Celtics without Isaiah look like: in the first half, everyone was playing great d, the ball was moving, and everyone was looking confident. Then, in the second half, the other team adjusted, clamped down on defense, and no one could create their own shot anymore. It was the ultimate examples of his strengths and weaknesses. That’s why, for the millionth, billionth time, I really hope they stay patient. Listen, Isaiah is great. But isn’t Markelle Fultz just a taller Isaiah? If you’re going to take someone number one overall, aren’t you expecting him to be the best player on your team? They don’t need to make an Isaiah decision just yet. If Fultz displays he has the same type of skills as Isaiah does right away and shows flashes of actually being able to play some defense, you can just trade Isaiah midseason. If he looks lost like Brandon Ingram did this year, then bite the bullet and resign Isaiah because you need at least one person who can score. My money is on Fultz being good right away. Kyrie Irving has displayed time and time again why you invest in an offensively gifted guard. He can replace Isaiah. It’ll make all the other fans unhappy, but, honestly, most Celtics fans are pretty stupid because they think a team built around Isaiah, Jimmy Butler, and Serge Ibaka can win a title. Luckily, I think Danny Ainge is smart enough to stick with his long game. It’s worked absolutely perfectly so far. Don’t throw it away for second tier stars. Please.

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