The Celtics are having an off year. At least based upon what everyone’s expectations were entering the season. Their star player is being heavily criticized by not only national, but local sports media as well. The role players on the team are seemingly unhappy with their usage. More and more soundbites are getting leaked from the locker room. The head coach is being questioned. The offense isn’t clicking how everyone expected it to. The defense isn’t playing consistent. Their season is getting written off already with people claiming the team could be a one-and-done in the playoffs. Overrated.
Now, replace the word ‘Celtics’ with ‘Patriots’ and reread that paragraph. The SAME EXACT types of things were being said about the Pats last year that are not being said about the Celts.
Don’t get me wrong, the criticisms are more than fair for this Celtics team. They went from taking the Cleveland Lebrons to a Game 7 in the Easter Conference Finals, to holding on for dear life to the 5th seed in the East. That is a wild drop considering most experts and fans alike were already penciling this team in to face the Warriors in the Finals. Kyrie is being criticized for his leadership and how his play just isn’t what this team needs now. You have guys like Rozier and Hayward being questioned day in and day out about how much playing time they are getting or how they are being used. It seems like everyday we get a new soundbite from a player in the locker room talking about how the team ‘just needs to play more together’ or something like that. The offense can’t seem to sore at time. The defense seems uninterested most of the time. People are saying that they’re probably not making it out of the first round.
Like I mentioned before, I do agree with some of these criticisms. I can’t stand Kyrie Irving right now and I honestly believe him coming back has severely fractured this teams on-court chemistry. Hayward being thrust into so many minutes a game has clearly not been paying off. But other than that, this is a classic case of expectations changing the way we think about a team.
Let’s take the Boston Celtics for what they are. A group of supremely talented and promising young players surrounded by a few veterans that are trying to lead the way. Tatum is going to be a superstar. Brown is going to be a great player in this league. Smart has such a grittiness about him that he sometimes single handedly wills this team to success. Rozier can shoot the lights out when he is on his game. Al Horford is a calming force in the paint who is an above average rim protector who can also hit the three when he is on. And Kyrie is one of, if not, the best closer in the game right now. That is what this team really is. So tame your expectations. Last year was a form of lightning in a bottle.
Back to the headline. The Celtics are the Patriots. Same criticisms, different sport. Have faith in these players and have faith in this coach. If I am correct here, remember how the Patriots season ended? Let’s hope the Celtics follow suit and bring the 3rd Championship to Boston this year.