First Round Upset Brewing?
For the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs that start tonight? Against the mediocre Chicago Bulls? Are you f’n serious?
A little bit actually, sorry to say.
From the get-go, I’ve been a little nervous about the series. On paper, the C’s should win in 5 or 6 fairly comfortably. But the news of yesterday kind of got me thinking about things.
The news from yesterday? Chyna Thomas. Yup, wait…who?
For those who haven’t heard, Chyna was a younger sister of Celtics star Isaiah Thomas and was killed in a car accident Saturday morning. We all know what this team looks like without Isaiah. And a lot of times it simply ain’t pretty.
My guess is that IT plays in all the games. But, for one, he will quite obviously be playing with a heavy heart, as he damn well should be. For two, between games, he will be logging some serious travel miles out to Washington state during the series to be with his family. One could argue that he should just skip games to spend time with his family during this difficult situation. And one may be right…he probably should. I just don’t believe he will, right or wrong.
Isaiah has been awesome this year, especially in the 4th quarter. But this will, and should, take some toll on him. Although basketball is certainly secondary to real life, the games must go on as they say. And IT’s situation will probably have some effect on the series. How much remains in question.
That all being said, as I said above, this series caused some concern for me regardless of what happened yesterday. Let’s start by saying that finishing with the top seed in your conference doesn’t really make you the top seed. I know, they are the #1 seed because they finished first. So my comment may sound idiotic. BUT, should any team going 53-29 be a top seed? I don’t know. Doesn’t seem like a top record for a #1 seed. The C’s would have been 4th in the West. And the Cleveland Cavaliers should have been better than 51-31 with that talent.
The Cavs should have cruised to 60-plus wins with that roster. But they rested guys regularly, had some injuries, roster turnover, mentally took some games off probably and so on and so on. But they were focused on the long haul…as any team should be. More concerned with a championship run than seeding. They are one of the few teams that can do that sort of thing. My guess is when they dismantled the Celtics in Boston a couple of weeks ago, that cemented their feeling that they could beat anyone anywhere, especially in the East, and they weren’t going to expend too much energy to get the #1 seed. Valid thinking, in my mind.
Back to the Bulls series…admittedly, I have not watched a lot of Chicago Bulls basketball this year. And it seems that they gave up a bit on this year at the trading deadline when they shipped two rotation players and a pick to OKC for 3 guys that don’t play…this year at least. Dwayne Wade is 150 years old. Rajon Rondo has been a distraction, per usual, benched on occasion, not to mention the fact that it appears he hasn’t been very good this year either.
I paid such little attention to the Bulls this year that I don’t even know who some of their players are. Cristiano Felicio. Who?
So I guess I am completely unqualified to comment on the Bulls. But I will anyway. Because this piece is more about how I think the Celtics will play down to their level anyway.
Plus…the Bulls still have Jimmy Butler. Maybe not as awesome as everyone thinks he is. But still likely the best player in this series. I do apologize profusely to you Isaiah.
One more thing on Rondo: A lot of people are expecting “National TV Rondo” here this series. You know, the one that routinely throws up triple-doubles. I am not expecting that. I am not sure how much of that he has left in him. However, I do expect him to up his game though. Sure, based on the stage. And the opponent…to show Boston fans what they are missing. And probably will play tighter D on Isaiah. To also “prove” to C’s fans that he is better than Thomas. And all that. But…we will see…
In any event, back to my concerns with the C’s before considering all of the above. The Celtics seem to leave a lot of teams in games, despite how average or poor the opponent is. They have trouble scoring without Isaiah on the floor. Brad Stevens keeps trying to play 11-12 guys…even if one or two of them are when he tries to spot in a Tyler Zeller or Gerald Green for 5 minutes or so. Or even James Young sometimes. Too many.
More concerns? Ok! They can’t rebound. Too many threes. Kelly Olynyk sucks. Marcus Smart shoots too much. Oftentimes, Al Horford doesn’t shoot enough…from inside the three-point line anyway. We’ve been through all of this before. It hasn’t changed. And now it’s the playoffs.
Thus far, I believe that ownership, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have done well in this Celtic “rebuild”. I don’t know if a faster path has really been available. But the fact remains that Stevens has not won a playoff series. Until they do, I am always going to be skeptical. Isaiah has been bottled up pretty good in past playoffs. Sure he gets his points, but the percentages have been brutal and the points have been tough to come by. Jae Crowder was atrocious in the first round last year. Blame the ankle injury if you will. I don’t…completely. At least he was out there. Avery Bradley went down yet again, so he was no help. He’s always a ticking time bomb with injury. So who knows this year?
I’ve had the same concerns with this team that I’ve had all season and you’ve all heard before. The playoffs are a different animal and with the Cs playing only supposedly “good” teams, any issues will be exposed. Ultimately, I think the Celtics win the series 4 games to 3. I had initially thought 4-2, but that changed with Isaiah’s situation. Maybe I shouldn’t have adjusted…after all, these guys have distractions all the time and, as professionals, should be able to handle them, right? This one feels different though. Bottom line though? If the C’s don’t get through the first round, the season is a colossal failure…
Posted on April 16, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Championship, Chicago Bulls, Chyna Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge, Dwayne Wade, Eastern Conference, first round, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler, National TV, NBA playoffs, Rajon Rondo, upset. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.