Man, who could have seen this coming? I’ll be honest, I think this is on me a little bit. Going into the series I kept telling myself not to get my hopes up. LeBron will always give you just enough hope to make the loss heartbreaking, so just don’t get emotionally invested. But then the Celtics won the first two games by a billion points, and I fell right into the trap. Cavs tied up the series at 2 games apiece and now have the obvious mental edge. This thing is pretty much over.
So what happened? Kind of seems like some combination of the Cavs starting to try a little bit and the Celtics completely breaking down. I’ll throw game 3 out, because you don’t sweep LeBron, and if you’re going to lose, you might as well lose, but last night was tough. The Cavs were dying to lose. They had the big first quarter and kept inviting the Celtics to come all the way back. They were sloppy, played some typically terrible D, and did everything short of literally leaving the court and forfeiting, and the Celtics just refused to acquiesce. They missed every big shot, played even worse D than the Cavs were playing, flat out refused to rebound, stopping passing or moving around on offense. Just bad. And I get that it’s still a very young team that’s punching above its weight a little bit, but the Stevens calling card has always been effort. If they were clearly giving it their all and going balls to the wall and still lost, I can live with that. But when it seems like Marcus Smart is the only one prepared to compete, you’re going to get run out of the building in the Conference Finals. You just are. I think, much like the Pacers are probably kicking themselves over letting their series against the Cavs get away from them, the Celtics are going to be sick looking back at game 3 if they wind up losing this series.
Is there any way the Celtics win? Sure. They have two more home games, where they haven’t lost yet in the postseason. They’re still way more athletic than the Cavs. They just need to lock back in on D and stop trying to play Mamba Ball (I can already see Jayson Tatum’s career careening off the tracks because of this stupid Kobe video. Why do you want to be like Kobe??? Why do you want the “Mamba Mentality?” So you can chuck up 30 fadeaway long 2s then blame your teammates when you lose? Is that what you want your career to be?). I might throw a triangle-and-two out there and put one guy on LeBron, one guy on whoever the best shooter is, and three guys on Tristan Thompson, who might be the best terrible player in NBA history. He completely sucks against everyone but the Celtics, but whenever he sees green he starts dominating. No one can box him out. Somehow when they dump it down to him and let him create it doesn’t always end badly. He even hits his free throws. I simply can’t figure it out, and it’s annoying me to no end. I expected LeBron to enter God Mode. But Tristan Thompson is beating the Celtics??? And I don’t really think there’s anything they can do to stop him from owning the boards, either. He just works so much harder than everyone. Maybe just put Smart on him, that might neutralize him. I’d bet my life the Celtics win game 5 and lose game 7. That’s just what’s going to happen. Basketball is stupid.