The Golden State Warriors: A True Underdog Story

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Take a second and think of the greatest upsets of all time. The single game David vs. Goliaths like the 2001 Patriots or 2007 Giants. The season-long triumph of an out-of-nowhere team like Leicester City. The improbable comebacks like the 2004 Red Sox or 2016 Cavaliers. The rare seven game series where an on-paper inferior roster overcomes overwhelming odds to defeat the Super Team across from them, think 2007 Warriors, 2011 Mavericks, and, out newest entry, the 2017 Golden State Warriors.

Against all odds, the team that won 73 games last year and added Kevin Durant has won the championship. But honestly, I think most people saw this coming. They reduced the Cavs, last year’s champion and a Super Team in their own right, to scrappy underdogs who were happy to win one game. In a weird way, this series was both closer than it seemed and not as close as it seemed. The Cavs played well! At least, they did in games 3-5. LeBron was ridiculous, Kyrie got out of his funk and started painting an oeuvre of layups and crazy finishes that I’m not sure anyone who has ever played can match, and Iman Shumpert only hit the side of the backboard once a game. And they lost two out of three. Outside of game 3, the Warriors wins were wins. They completely wiped the floor with them in games 1, 2, and 5. No contest. The scores don’t even come close to reflecting how dominant they were. When the Cavs completely gagged game 3, I thought the Cavs would roll over. But, to their credit, they blew out the Warriors in game 4, then turned around an predictably lost in game 5. Now, of course, as with all things NBA and LeBron, the next question is what does this all mean?

LeBron should get out of this relatively unscathed. While he can’t blow his nose without someone questioning what it means for his legacy, he was amazing again this series. Did everything short of actually shooting the ball in clutch moments. First guy to ever lead both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in a seven game series. That’s insane. LeBron is still LeBron, no matter who you think holds the fictional torch. In my mind, Kyrie didn’t really change his place in the league, either. He had a perfect Kyrie series: absolutely no defense whatsoever (except when he knows everyone is watching him guard Steph, so he actually tries a little), long stretches where he stinks, but the same number of stretches of utter brilliance. I don’t think anyone’s opinion of him really changed after this series. All the fools who think he’s a top ten player or the second best point guard in the league or better than Steph will stubbornly hold on to that until the day they die. The h8trs, like me (I think I might like him better if he was named, like, Robert or something), still will find places to criticize him. Like on defense. The truth is somewhere in between: offensively, he’s (just a disclaimer here: if you’re in the “80s/90s were better and basketball was real then and this new generation sucks and is watered down” crowd, you should probably stop reading this right now. It’s only going to get worse for you) pretty much the upgraded Allen Iverson: immaculate handles, best finishing around the rim for a little guy ever, much better shooting. Defensively, he’s worse than Steph, who everyone loves to point and laugh at. He is what he is at this point, which is obviously a great player. But unless he suddenly starts caring about defense, I don’t know how much better he can get. Then I gained a lot of respect for Kevin Love this series. His shot wasn’t always falling, but he was battling for his life on the glass and was playing the best defense of his career. He never quit, even when nothing was going down and he was stuck on island after island guarding Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, mostly because Ty Lue is a moron who doesn’t know what he’s doing. He was what Tristan Thompson is advertised as being. Everyone else on the Cavs SUCKED. J.R. got hot the last two games but was nothing before. Shumpert shouldn’t be in the league anymore. Deron Williams has made the “DWill or CP3?” debate seem like it was in another lifetime. Tristan Thompson should get a Depends sponsorship. Richard Jefferson was okay, but you need to use carbon dating to find his age. Kyle Korver was bad. In typical LeBron fashion, he threw subtle shade at his teammates during every postgame press conference. He seems to forget he’s acting GM of the team. And, of course, the classic quote:

But, like I said, LeBron is still LeBron.

On the Warriors side, obviously it’s all good for everyone, except, of course, the haters. This was a perfect playoffs for my newly re-adopted favorite player, Steph Curry. I withdrew during the popularity and backlash, but now that he’s Back, so am I. He was great in pretty much every facet of the game. He’s never played better, and, more importantly, he’s never played better in the postseason. He proved once again that he’s a top 4 player in the league, and (hopefully, but probably not) shut up the people who are very vocal with their belief that Kyrie is better. All the tough guys always love to say “He doesn’t guard the other team’s point guard.” Honestly, who cares? He’s not a strong defender. He’s become underrated because the likes of Russell Westbrook (who will never make another NBA Finals, let alone win his second in three years) love to openly mock him, but he’s still not great. Klay Thompson is. If the other team’s backcourt is Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith, and one of your guards is an elite perimeter defender, why the hell would you not have him guard the opponent’s best player? The Warriors are smart. They aren’t coached by Ty Lue, so typical positional matchups don’t dictate who is going to guard who. Kyrie guarded Steph every time in the early games because they were point guards. Steph dominated and Kyrie got tired out. LeBron guarded Kevin Durant. Durant dominated and LeBron, despite what he says, got tired out. You’d have to be a complete idiot to keep those defensive matchups more than you need to. Why should Steph be penalized for having a great defensive teammate? I really don’t get it. As for my man Klay, like Kyrie he stayed pretty much the same. Once he got hot, he was the same old Klay. Draymond could never get it going offensively, but he did so many little things on defense that lead to multiple blowouts. Somehow Zaza and Javale McGee are now champions. Somehow James Michael McAdoo is a two-time champion. David West’s insatiable thirst may finally be quenched. Iguodala showed why he’s the sixth man of the year. The fact that Shaun Livingston can even walk, let alone be a contributing member of multiple championship teams, is an accomplishment. Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark were there.

But, obviously, there’s only going to be one man’s name on everyone’s lips: Kevin Durant. What does this mean for his legacy? Did he ruin basketball? Is this title lessened because he had the gall to join an already stacked team? No, it really isn’t. Listen, you can feel however you want to feel about him. The hatred people feel is so deeply ingrained I don’t think there’s anything I can do to sway people. Seriously, you’d think he murdered everyone’s family or something. People call him a coward because he was a free agent. He’s soft, he’s a bitch, whatever. One guy I follow on Twitter tweeted, completely unprovoked and not replying to anything, to Kevin Durant that he was weak. At like, 3 pm today. As if saying that will make him feel bad about himself. You think he cares now? This was a business decision. He used the Warriors just like the Warriors used him. The accomplished their mission. He doesn’t give a damn what you say about him. Would people have been happier if he signed with the Nets? Why are you so mad that he left Oklahoma City? Because they had a good team? Well, the Warriors are good, too. Better, in fact. The whole point of free agency is that players should have some say in where they play. He didn’t want to be in Oklahoma City anymore. He spent nine years there, that’s way more time than anyone needs to spend there. Ever think he was just tired of it? That maybe, just maaaaaaaaaybe, he didn’t want to play with Russell Westbrook? Think about how awful it is to be a Thunder role player. You’re held hostage every game and have to bend over backwards to accommodate the world’s biggest temper tantrum throwing toddler. Now imagine you’re one of the five most naturally gifted players to ever play basketball and you have to do the same thing. Sounds pretty horrible to me. So, he left for an all time great team that knocked him out of the playoffs the year before. Who cares? It’s his choice. What if someone told you you weren’t allowed to leave a job you hate because a bunch of hardos on the Internet would yell at you? If you’re really that upset about him, get up, go outside, and take a nice long walk. Clear your head. Calm your nerves. Then come back and start firing off your tweets. Just don’t you dare say he’s just riding the bandwagon. He was the best player on the floor for either team. It was shocking when he missed a shot. All of a sudden, he’s Theo Ratliff on defense, too. The did more than pull his own weight. He dragged the Warriors over the finish line with his play. This didn’t “ruin basketball.” The Warriors are playing at a level few teams ever can match. Appreciate it while it’s here. The way these things work out, it won’t be permanent. Someone will get hurt, someone will want more money, someone will want their own team. The NBA isn’t closing up shop anytime soon, don’t worry. The Celtics and Bucks are rising in the East. The Spurs, Twolves, and Rockets are coming in the West. LeBron is getting older, and, assuming he gets his wish, the Banana Boat Super Team that comes together in a few years is going to stink. Now isn’t forever. The sun will still rise. The draft is next week. Even more incredibly talented players will join the league, making the “the league is watered down” crowd look worse by the day. The NBA has never been in a better spot. But maybe I’m just more optimistic than most. Maybe I can just look past my own outrage and see the bright future ahead. Maybe I can just see what other people can’t see: a home grown Celtics Super Team on the horizon. So, please, if you’re one of the people who are Mad Online, take a breath. Think happy thoughts. Think of whatever inferior era of basketball your nostalgia is telling you is the best. And listen to the official anthem of the Boston Celtics, the 2018-19 NBA Champions.

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The Fact that Cleveland thinks it gets a nickname gets me all Fired Up

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As is usually the case, during the eon-long downtime in between NBA Finals games (which, as LeBron James will tell you, are just basketball games. They aren’t the end of the world. When he wakes up tomorrow, he’ll still have more money and fame than you’ll ever have. But, no, he’s not bitter that someone out-Super Teamed him), we’ve been pelted with teasers and previews for Wednesday night’s game 3. And, as the game is being played in Cleveland, they keep repeating the now-tired phrase “Defend The Land.” The Land meaning Cleveland. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a particularly new nickname. Unsurprisingly, LeBron created it in an effort so seem cool to all his friends in hip hop. It makes sense, too. You can’t spell Cleveland without Land. You can certainly see where people are coming from when they say it. But take a second to really think about it.

The Land. How much land is there in the world? A lot, right? So, something that called The Land must be pretty important, right? Maybe some kind of mystical, sacred ground that ancient people travelled to for worship. Or a booming economic or cultural center that dictates trends throughout the world. Or, at the very least, it has to have some kind of political importance. It has to be something, right? Nope, it’s Cleveland. The arrogance of LeBron to think that anyone outside the state of Ohio thinks of Cleveland as anything but a giant dump. I’ve been to Cleveland, so I’m speaking from experience here: Cleveland sucks. Everything about it is bad. The food stinks. The city is ugly. It’s always so hazy. Their sports teams outside the Cavs are horrible, and since there’s nothing else to do in town, the people are so beaten down and defensive about everything. In fact, the nickname The Land is the perfect snapshot of the people of Cleveland: they have such an inferiority complex they latch on to anything that shows it’s “us-against-the-world” and makes anyone outside the 216 area code notice them and acknowledge that they even exist. Cleveland is nothing. Cleveland is irrelevant. Cleveland isn’t The Land. You can’t Defend it. There’s nothing to defend! What, are people going to steal the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame? Not that! What culture does Cleveland have? What contributions has Cleveland ever made to America? LeBron and Drew Carey? Is that it? And you want to call that place The Land? Why? Not every city gets a nickname. What if, in an alternate reality, I was famous enough to create nicknames and I called my hometown of Rutland, Vermont The Land? Or The City? Or if I called Vermont The State? I hope would get mocked endlessly. You can’t just give something of such little importance a nickname like The Land. I don’t know what place in the world most deserves to be called The Land, but I know for a fact it isn’t a sad-sack place like Cleveland. I pray to God that the good people of Cleveland read this and make me public enemy number one, because that would mean I never have to go there again. Hey, Cleveland, you aren’t The Land, you’re The Dump. Boom, roasted. Rant over.

I’m finally ready to give my take on the matter: the Warriors are Good

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Last night was the exact reason I was fine with the Celtics losing in the Conference Finals. The Cavs played well the majority of the night, and lost by 20. It wasn’t that close. Celtics would have lost by 60. This series is #done. It’s over. There’s not many teams in NBA history that could beat this Warriors team four out of five games, and this year’s Cavs team sure as hell ain’t one of them.

I mean, I don’t even know what else the Cavs can do at this point. I guess they could start by slowing the game down. I have no idea why they’re insisting on playing a million miles and hour against the best fast-break team in 30 years. They just open themselves up to get gashed time and time again. If you’re playing so fast that the only chance you have of winning a single game in this series is gassed in the third quarter, you’re doing something wrong. They could also stop playing Iman Shumpert, like, at all. Everything about him was always overrated because he played in New York, but he’s arguably the worst player in the league. He’s a defensive specialist who can’t guard anybody, and his offense somehow gets worse every season. They could stop throwing lineups that include exactly zero (0) members of the LeBron-Kyrie-Love big 3. But, hey, LeBron likes Tyronn Lue, so who needs a real coach, right? It’s mostly seen as a joke of a question, but are the Cavs actually missing Matthew Dellavedova? He’s not Gary Payton, or anything, but at least he provided some resistance and tried the whole time. Kyrie, who everyone keeps telling me is better than Steph, was absolutely invisible all game. For all the talk of Steph not guarding him, Kyrie doesn’t guard Steph either, even though he “tries” to. Deron Williams might as well be a mannequin on defense. I don’t know what’s going on with J.R. Maybe last year’s carriage of a performance finally turned back into a pumpkin. And the aforementioned Shumpert is bad. Their guard defense is atrocious. LeBron attacks the rim every time, doesn’t get a call, then stands there berating the official as Kevin Durant comes down for an uncontested dunk. Why can’t the Celtics ever face this horrible version of Tristan Thompson? They always get the guy who dominates the boards and commits to defense. All non-LeBron Cavs have totally quit and I’ll be shocked if they win a game this series.

As for the Warriors, I’m still wrestling with how I feel about them. This is one of the greatest team ever, and probably the best since the ’96 Bulls. But they’re the most widely reviled team this side of the Patriots. People hate that Durant pulled the ultimate ring-chasing move. People hate their antics, lead by Steph and Draymond. People hate the new-fangled 3-point shot and how “soft” they are (despite the fact that they have the best defense in the league and the fact that they shoot just as well at the rim as from deep). I’ve mentioned this before, but the Warriors were always kind of my “second team” when they sucked. I loved their at-the-time quirky playing style (Al Harrington revolutionized the stretch-4 I don’t care what you say), I loved their raucous home crowd before it became a corporate, Silicon Valley wine and cheese, go there to be seen crowd, and, most of all, I loved Monta Ellis-era Steph Curry. The one who wasn’t a two time MVP. The one who wasn’t one of the two-or-three most popular players in the league. The one who no one knew about. It felt like being an exclusive club when you were watching and he got a random triple double or 40-point game. You just never knew what you were going to get. I didn’t have League Pass or anything, so watching the Warriors was a rare treat. Sometimes Steph would get hurt or have a crappy game. Sometimes C.J. Watson would take over. It was basketball-roulette. They were a bad team, but they were the most fun team in the league. Then they drafted Klay Thompson, adding another fun heat-check guy. Then Draymond Green developed. Then, in the blink of an eye, they won 73 games and were on the verge of back-to-back titles. They were a national obsession- both during their rise and during their fall. People looked for any excuse to discredit them. Steph Curry was suddenly overrated. Spend enough time on Twitter and you’ll find plenty of people who think he’s flat-out bad. Any time he wasn’t perfect of defense or had an off night shooting the eye emojis would come out in full force. Steph suddenly sucked because he wasn’t a Russell Westbrook level athlete. No matter if people loved him or hated him, they couldn’t keep his name out their mouths. His fame was so extreme I started to dislike him myself. Draymond started kicking and punching everyone in the nuts. And then Kevin Durant added an almost universal hatred. It’s become so extreme that if you don’t think the Warriors are singlehandedly ruining the sport of basketball (despite the fact that LeBron himself created the free-agency-created Super Team era), you’re an idiot and a social pariah. But, like, when I watch them play, I’m sorry but I kind of enjoy it. They play perfect basketball. They move the ball better and more unselfishly than any team in the league. They’re the best shooting team and have some of the best finishers in the NBA. They play some of the best defense in the last 20 years. I don’t really love that Durant signed there, but he’s so great, especially now that he’s blocking shots left and right. I’ve secretly held on to some of my Steph Curry stock, and nights like last night, when he dominated and Kyrie STINKS, make me happy. I love Klay, and wouldn’t mind seeing what he could do on a different team (Celtics?). I could do without the dick punching, but Draymond’s defense can’t be ignored. So, yeah. I guess I still like the Warriors. Sorry I can both appreciate LeBron’s greatness and the overwhelming greatness of the Warriors. I still feel a little dirty about it, but I’m going to love watching them celebrate.

NBA Finals Preview

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Wait, basketball is still happening? I almost forgot about it it’s been so long since a game has been played. But, finally, the Finals start tomorrow night. It’s a surprise matchup this season, as no one really saw the Cavs and Warriors clashing for a third straight Finals. But that’s why I say the NBA is the best league: the pure unpredictability of it all. The NHL could learn a thing or two from the NBA, I’ll tell you that much. Like what’s the point of even playing the regular season in the first place? Everyone knew it was going to be Pittsburgh-Nashville in the Finals the whole time. Makes me sick thinking about it. What a joke the NHL is. Worst league EVER.

I love when people go on long rants about how bad the NBA is and how everyone knew what the Finals were going to be the whole year. First of all, the last two Finals were amazing, so if this year is anything like the first two, I’ll be fine with it. Oh, man, I hate seeing LeBron, at worst the second greatest player ever, pushed to his limits by the ultimate super team which was built specifically to beat him. What a bummer. These incredibly exciting games get old fast. I sure wish I could be watching Jazz-Raptors right about now. And this is the thing the “90s were the best NBA era” crowd somehow doesn’t get- this is how the NBA has always been. Basketball, more than any other sport, is controlled by the best players. It has the least amount of active players at one time, and the luck factor (random deflections in front of goal, bloop singles, Edelman/Tyree type catches, etc.) is way, way lesser than other sports. It’s dominated by skill and athleticism, and, surprisingly, the very best players are the most skilled and athletic. So, the teams with the best players win. If you don’t like it, the Stanley Cup Finals are on, and it’s looking like a pretty good series. And spare me the same, tired “The 90s were more competitive!” bullshit. You mean the same 90s where, if Michael Jordan hadn’t taken two years off, one team would have won eight championships in a row? I repeat: the same team would have won EIGHT titles consecutively. As in, one (1) out of the 27-29 teams would have won a championship. “But he beat so many great teams!” Really? If they were so great wouldn’t they have beaten him at least one time? If the Knicks were just so good, wouldn’t they have managed to beat MJ one out of the million times they played? “The 80s were more competitive!” Either the Celtics or Lakers won 8 of the 10 titles. The early 2000s was either Lakers or Spurs. I’m not sure there were any other teams besides the Celtics in the 60s, and the 50s don’t count since black people weren’t allowed to play yet. The 70s is literally the only period of time in NBA history with anything resembling parity. 10 out of 67 NBA seasons, that’s 15% of the time, there were no “super teams.” It just seems worse now because we can see every second of every game and we have infinitely more access. You think the Bullets were going all out every game in 1986? Probably not, because they knew they weren’t beating the Celtics in the East. It’s just so stupid when people complain about the state of the league. The players are better than ever. There’s more good players than ever, and I know it doesn’t seem like it, but more teams have good players than ever. Yes, the game is less physical now. Man, I hate that people aren’t getting injured anymore or that now that teams don’t have a designated roster spot for some thug who takes people out when they’re going to the rim, there are more skilled players than ever. God, I miss the 90s, am I right? And, of course, the the competitiveness argument. Sorry the all-star game sucks. Does it really affect your life that much? And at some point, there’s a line between competitive spirit and futility. I could try as hard as I can against a 54-year-old Michael Jordan in a game of 1-on-1, but I’ll still never beat him. Why should the Hornets go out and make short-sighted signings and trade everything for a fringe all-star because they just gotta win now and be competitive!, when it will make absolutely no difference against LeBron. So, instead of missing the playoffs, you lose second round and no longer have any kind of future or salary cap flexibility. But, at least you tried, right! So stupid. The NBA is smarter now. At least 10 teams now actually know what they’re doing, which is like, five times more than what it usually is. Teams aren’t going to mortgage their future chasing some golden goose that isn’t leaving Cleveland any time soon. I realize it goes against the mindset you need in literally every other sport, but ruling the NBA landscape when you don’t have one of the greatest players or miraculous collection of homegrown talent is an extreme long game. You need patience. You need foresight. You need to make intelligent moves that set you up to win when there’s a vacuum of power. You can only beat today’s version LeBron, Kyrie, and Love if you have three or four All-NBA level players. You know who else has that? Unless you’re the Warriors, the answer isn’t you. That’s why there’s so much tanking and asset-grabbing going on. Teams realize the best way to come out on top in ten years is by having the best young talent, and the best way to get the best young talent is by having the best draft picks. Listen, there’s not another LeBron-level player on anyone’s radar right now. Theoretically, he’s going to retire at some point. That’s when the Celtics moves pay off. That’s when (maybe) the Sixers moves pay off. That’s when the league becomes wide open. That’s when you get your precious competitive balance. For now, this is just the way it is. If you’re going to be mad at anyone, be mad at the league for rigging a million straight lotteries for Cleveland so they could get Kyrie Irving and, by trading Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Love. Besides Kevin Durant, all the Warriors best players were drafted by the team (and not in the top-5, either). As much as everyone hates them, the Warriors have achieved the platonic ideal of a title contender- they drafted excellently, spent money wisely, and added all the right pieces. That’s not the same formula the Cavs, Heat, or even late 2000s Celtics used. So before you start bitching about how many super teams there are and how they’re ruining the game, maybe consider the fact that the Warriors are just smarter than everyone else.

Anyway, with that rant out of the way, we come to the series at hand. Cavs-Warriors Round III. What will happen? Who will rise to the occasion? Who will choke? Well, I’m willing to bet LeBron will show up. Kevin Durant has spent the last year getting yelled at by people online. He’s been called soft. He’s been getting called out for his playoff failures. He’s been called a coward. Don’t you think he’s had enough? This might come back to bite me James Harden style, but I think Durant will absolutely go off this series, But those two will just cancel each other out. Steph Curry has been sizzling all postseason and has his own Finals demons to expel. He’s going to be big. But, despite the fact that I don’t really like him (it’s probably just his face. Or the fact that he fabricated the fact that he’s a flat-earther just to get some attention), I fully expect Kyrie Irving to match everything he does. Facing Steph always brings out the best of his considerable ability. Then there’s Klay Thompson, who’s icy shooting so far this postseason is either a sign of things to come, or the sign of a pending massive breakout. Honestly, in my mind, he’s going to be the key to the whole series. Somehow, one of the greatest shooters of all time’s jumpshot is the biggest variable. We know what LeBron and Durant and Steph and Kyrie will do. Kevin Love, when not guarded by Draymond Green, will provide his typical reliable shooting, passing, and rebounding. Tristan Thompson is going to completely dominate the glass, and may single-handedly win a game or two. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston should dominate the game when the bench units are in. J.R. Smith and Javale McGee have improbably become consistent, known commodities. We’ve seen how these teams match up. We know their strengths, we know their weaknesses. Literally the only thing we don’t know is if Klay Thompson is going to show up. Listen, the Cavs have spent long portions of this season, both regular and post, looking horrible on defense. If they play that way against the Warriors, they’ll get scraped. But, I bet they’ll be a little more attentive to that side of the ball in the Finals. The Warriors have dominated the competition so soundly that it’s lead people to assume they have an extra gear they haven’t gotten to yet. Really, that just means Klay has been cold. Again, if he gets it going, this could be over fast. But what if he doesn’t? What if they play to another draw? What if it goes seven games? Well, I’ll take the team that has LeBron.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 7

The Celtics are Finally Dead

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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.

Isaiah Thomas is a God Amongst Men

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I don’t even know what to say after last night. 53 points. 18-33 from the field, 5-12 from 3, 12-13 from the line. Most points in an NBA playoff game since his spiritual predecessor Allen Iverson in 2003. Second most points in a game in Celtics playoff history, and, last time I checked, the Celtics have played a lot of playoff games. He had 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Wizards had 30. And he did it on his sister’s birthday? He’s just unreal. I have absolutely nothing but respect for him. All he does is prove people wrong and make them look stupid. I got caught up in the “worst one seed ever” hype and was way too critical of him. He’s ripped up his previous reputation for underwhelming playoff performances and taken a big, fat dump on the h8trs. He keeps proving time and again that he’s a legit superstar and can figuratively stand eye to eye with the most talented players in the league. Is he perfect? No. Is he great defensively? No (but, unless my eyes deceived me, he completely locked up John Wall the few times he was on him in the fourth). Is he in the long term picture for the Celtics? I’m not sure. But, unless they really botch the draft or make a panicky win-now move, I’m not really going to worry about that right now. I’ll just enjoy the ride.

While we’re talking Celtics-Wizards, I’d like to congratulate John Wall for having one some of the best three quarters of point guard play you’ll ever see. Too bad there’s four quarters. He let Isaiah Thomas (a.k.a. the Worst Defender in the League) shut him down. He let rookie Jaylen Brown lock him up. Avery Bradley is so far in his and Bradley Beal’s kitchens that he’s making them breakfast and walking their dogs. Marcus Smart is bullying everyone on the Wizards when he feels like rebounding. Kyle Lowry thinks Beal is nowhere to be found. This series is O-V-E-R. The Wizards have quit. They might not even show up for the games in Washington. They held the Celtics’ funeral during the season but in the playoffs the Celtics rose from the dead and are burying the Wizards so deep their bones will turn to oil within the next 50 years. I’ve never heard a better summary of D.C. sports. The Wizards love to act like this tough team who everyone disrespects and they’ll fight everybody and they have this weird sense of entitlement, as if they’ve ever done anything of note, but none of that works if you blow double digit leads every game and have real trouble beating the Hawks. Whatever Morris they have is such a try hard. Every bump is cause for war and every word is an attack against his apparently very fragile manhood. We get, you think you’re tough. Why don’t you actually swing on someone if you care about your image so much? I mean, it’s not like it’ll matter if you’re suspended or since, since, judging by last night’s second half, you’ve been planning your offseason vacation for a while now anyway. John Wall yaps the entire game and stares down everyone after doing anything, but then becomes a wallflower when Bradley starts stripping him every time down the floor. Get this bum-ass team out of my sight and bring me LeBron.

Some Other Playoff Thoughts Since I Didn’t (Forgot To) Do a Second Round Preview:

  • Not to rub it in or anything, but everyone saw that Russell Westbrook was pretty much the reason the Thunder lost, right? Just checking. Say his team sucks all you want, but it’s hard to be good when you’re only allowed to shoot at the end of the shot clock.
  • Can someone explain the upside of playing with Westbrook to me? Like if I’m a free agent, why would I even consider playing with him? You’re telling me I’m no allowed to rebound, I only get the ball twice a quarter, I’m only allowed to shoot directly off a pass from him, and I’ll get cussed out if I miss (even though I’m ice cold since I haven’t shot in 10 minutes) for ruining his assist? And I’m not even allowed to answer questions asked directly to me in press conferences? And my entire existence has to be devoted to keeping him happy? Taj Gibson looked like Dom in Fast 8. I kept waiting for him to blink twice to show he was okay. It just seems like a miserable life for anyone not named Russell Westbrook. Why would anyone want that?
  • I really really really really really hope that was the last time my poor eyes have to watch another Lob City game. It’s over, fellas. Blow it up. Get rid of Doc Rivers, who is somehow still not viewed as the worst coach and GM in the league despite mountains of evidence. Let Blake escape the tyranny of Cliff Paul. Actually, I don’t care what you do as long as I don’t have to listen to how the Clippers are ready to contend next year. No team with CP3 will ever contend. Period.
  • Allow me to join the infinite chorus of people saying watch out for the Bucks. But, their path to greatness isn’t an open freeway. They still don’t have much shooting (they sure could use someone like Malik Monk in the draft. If only they could have done something like cut out the middle man and gotten the rights to the Lakers’ pick this year instead of taking Michael Carter-Williams. Oh, well), they need another ball handler, and no one knows what they’re going to with Jabari Parker. The people saying they’ll run the East seem to have forgotten the Celtics are set up perfectly to be good for a long time.
  • Got to feel for the Grizzlies, who, because of things like cap situation and draft position, are pretty much resigned to having the exact same team until the end of time. Doubt the people of Memphis would have it any other way, though.
  • I fully expect the Spurs to somewhat bounce back after getting completely annihilated in game 1, but other that that, this entire round sucks. Thankfully, it’ll be over soon. The Warriors will sweep Utah easily. The Raptors STINK and stand absolutely no chance whatsoever of finishing any of the four games down by less than 15. The Wizards are dead. The Spurs will probably lose in 6. Let’s just fast forward to the conference finals.
  • I don’t want to get my hopes up, but the way the Celtics are playing, they might be able to win a game or two against Cleveland. Hard to be disappointed if you don’t dream too big.
  • The Hour of Reckoning is nigh. Less than two weeks until the Draft Lottery. It’s legitimately one of the biggest moments of my life. Last time the Celtics were in this position I convinced myself they’d get Kevin Durant and wound up with the 5th pick. If the NBA rigs it so the Lakers get to keep their top 3 pick and the Celtics get 4th, I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to the league office.
  • Choosing the right representative to send to the lottery is key. I don’t know if the Celtics have chosen one yet, but I’m free that night.