The Celtics: Where Do We Go From Here?

“How do you feel about the future?”

“What could the Celtics have done differently?”

Throughout my week-long reflection period, after the Celtics lost the finals, I was asked these two questions multiple times a day by people who know my love for the team. After lashing out to them about how awful their team is out of pure anger, I have now relaxed and prepared to share my thoughts. First, I want to share a rushed article that I wrote on my phone the second I woke up after the game six loss. I will let it speak for itself and make some corrections and clarifications below.

I write this article far too early and I know I should not be doing this right now. Be prepared for grammatical mistakes as well as impulsive comments that I will surely regret in a day or two. Once I calm down I will likely clear a lot of it up and revise what I am about to say. 

Have you ever heard a proud, even annoying, dad at a sports event talking up his son’s college offers and statistics before the game starts? This situation usually leads to his son not living up to the hype and anyone sitting in the area is left wondering “how did he get those offers and accolades?”.  At this very second, I feel like the father in the situation and the Celtics were the team I talked up the entire season. Even before the 29-9 run that started on January 17th, I had faith in the team. However, for a few years now Jayson Tatum has made me a bit uneasy because of his shakiness in big games/series. Obviously, last night was ridden with turnovers and obviously, Tatum was being doubled hard, but there are a few things that I know perennial stars would have done that he did not as he struggled. First, the slow euro step he does when he brings the ball below his knees and swings his arms only to miss the layup and cry for a foul. Most other struggling stars would invite the contact and get to the line, rather than try to avoid it and complain about a call. I also may be biased towards Jaylen Brown, but I want to vouch for him so give me a second. I do see the moments where it seems like he is a baby deer and just falls while dribbling or makes an errant pass that flies into the third row. However, these moments usually come at a time when everyone else is struggling and Browns’ scoring is what they fall back on. He is simply not the player the offense should run through, but one who is capable of scoring 30 off of the flow of the game and minimal dribbles. He is at his best when he comes off a down screen into a size-up combination for a mid-range shot. Okay, that’s enough on Brown, for now, let’s move on to the bigger picture. When we were up 2-1 I was feeling that the series could be over in five games. This is when Steph proved he was far and away from the best player in the series. I could bore you with stats and analysis about why this is, but for even a casual viewer it was blatant. On the other side, I think a casual viewer who watches most of the series might think that Rob Williams or Jaylen Brown is the Celtic’s best player, not Tatum. 

Looking forward, I am still faithful that this roster will result in a championship. Their core and leaders are young with much room for improvement and not in their prime yet. The one thing that I am most disappointed about is that this seemed like the easiest finals to win since the Raptors won in 2019. With this up and down of a season, I know that I will eventually look back on it and be proud of what the Celtics did. That’s enough for now.

Okay, well I do feel roughly the same as I did as I wrote that piece, I am calmed down and understand the many positives that come out of the playoff run. If you asked me in early January to bet on the Celtics making the finals I would have immediately declined and been just as hesitant to bet on a simple playoff berth. Once the miraculous defensive and chemistry-focused run to end the year was in full swing, I started to get that feeling something special was about to happen. However, in the early stages of the playoffs, I knew in the back of my mind the one major thing that would lead to the Celtic’s demise is lack of experience. Although we swept the Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving scare any fan coming into a series with their ability to score 40 on any given night. Next up was the Bucks, and I told everyone I talked to that whoever wins that round would be in the finals. To beat the defending champions after being down 2-1, even though Middleton was out, was more than promising because of how impactful and overpowering Giannis is to play against. Even though the Heat series went to seven games, for some reason the only time I was nervous about the outcome was when Butler heaved up that transition three in crunch time. Injuries, Covid, and a few fluke instances were the determining factors that pushed that series to seven games. Now, the Warriors. Just saying the name makes me think of the dominance they have portrayed over the last decade, making it to 6 finals. I do not want to go into the gameplay itself as I hit on it a little in my “morning after” excerpt, because to me it simply comes down to the fact that they have been there before. Tatum’s woes and Brown’s inconsistency can be marked down to me as not having been there. It makes me think of Lebron’s first finals appearance and his struggles. In a sweep, he averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. While the rosters and circumstances are obviously different, it just seems like many stars have to go through a series like this so they can learn, grow, and fix the issues they have before earning a championship. So, let’s not worry and be hopeful from here on out. With a young core and likely most of the team returning, for the time being, the Boston Celtics will be returning to the NBA finals soon, but will experience a different outcome.


  • calebanger

    Former college basketball player, sports enthusiast, and coach. Instagram: @calebanger Email:

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