The Bucks smashed the Celtics again last night, extending their series lead to a commanding 3-1. Celtics’ season is effectively over. Were it not for preseason expectations, losing to the best team in the East, led by the likely MVP and owner of one of the best scoring margins in league history, wouldn’t be that big a deal. But, unfortunately, those expectations existed, and they wound up dooming the Celtics.
Coming off a surprise trip to the Conference Finals (which, in all honesty, they should have won), the East was the Celtics’ oyster. Kyrie Irving, hurt for the playoffs, and Gordon Hayward, hurt for the entire season, were returning, adding two All-Star players to a dynamic young core that blossomed in the postseason, which, according to fan logic, would create an instant contender. Instead, we got a steaming pile of shit. Hayward took months to shake off the rust and regain his confidence, by which time the public had already given up on him. Kyrie was such a terrible leader and teammate the entire season that you could be forgiven for thinking he was actively sabotaging the team. Preaching “wait until the playoffs” then STINKING in the playoffs isn’t a great look. But it’s the dumb young guys’ fault, not his. He’s a basketball genius, you know. He’s the most talented Celtic since Kevin Garnett and I can’t wait until he’s on a different team. Every sign of adversity caused them to fold up shop, and, as the vocal and self-proclaimed leader of the team, that falls into his lap. I get the Bucks are dominant and Giannis is completely unstoppable, but you can’t just quit every single time. It’s not all on Kyrie, obviously. At least he’s going out firing. Jayson Tatum, proclaimed the second coming this time last year, has completely vanished. This was a troubling season from start to finish from him and it’s ending with a whimper. Terry Rozier took a step back this season when relegated to a bench role. Brad Stevens didn’t even have a good year. Jaylen Brown has surged after a dreadful start to the season and played well in the playoffs, but still mysteriously has games where he doesn’t play 30 minutes. Only Al Horford, always steady, always underrated, has escaped this season without black marks.
So what now? I guess they could theoretically come back and win the series, but if you sincerely believe that we’ve been watching two different series. Celtics are dead in the water. Bucks are too good, Celtics are too dysfunctional and bad. End of story. They could re-sign Kyrie, but I’m hoping that’s unlikely. Let him crawl back to LeBron or go waste away in New York. They could trade for Anthony Davis and hope he comes back next year, but they just went through the exact same thing with Kyrie and it completely destroyed their season. Count me out on trading everything for a guy who is either too dumb to pick out his own clothes in the morning or thinks the public is so dumb we’ll believe that. Celtics have enough head cases as is. I guess move forward with the young guys as the focal point, hoping that the loss of ambiguity in their roles fosters the kind of growth everyone is expecting. But it might be time to start wondering if the Nets trade was squandered. Still early, but it’s real ugly right now. It’s time to go back to the drawing board in Boston.