Seventeen NBA championships, the most of any team in the league. Thirty-five Hall of Fame inductees and counting. And a franchise that is known for a disciplined and organized style of play. Do any of these ring a bell for you?
Down here in the south, when I wear my Boston Celtics sweatshirts to our track meets, no one has ever said a word to me about “Go Celtics!” or “Booooo.” Last year at a meet in Virginia, I had at least 10 people comment on my sweatshirt. Now obviously, Virginia is closer to Boston than Georgia is. One thing is for sure though — if you go to a Hawks versus Celtics game here in Atlanta, you will see far more green than red.
No one can argue that the Celtics have a rich tradition, but what about now? As NBA fans know, the bubble was instituted in Orlando for the continuation of play leading into the playoffs, which is where we are now; specifically the second round. With a powerhouse lineup of teams such as the Rockets, Nuggets, Lakers, Clippers, Bucks and others, these playoffs are unique, but have offered some of the best games that I personally have seen in a while, especially from my Celtics.
After sweeping the strong and athletic Philadelphia 76ers 4-0 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Celtics moved on to face the Toronto Raptors with a full head of steam. With Jayson Tatum, the young star at forward averaging 27.2 points and 46% success rate from 3 point range, this is only the first impressive piece of the puzzle. Valuable assets like point guard Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown have stepped up big time too, averaging 23 and 19 points per game.
As a lifelong Celtics fan, this is the most exciting and focused team I have ever seen Boston put together. We have a great starting lineup, but it is so much more than that as well. Through the games played so far in the playoffs, coach Brad Stevens has been able to say after each game, “Our bench was really good tonight.”
It is always nice to have a star who can simply take over a game like Tatum can. The key is that the bench and rest of the team puts the stars in their position to shine. If there was as good a year for the Celtics to get their 18th ring, this would be that year. Of course, there are plenty of tough teams coming out of the West. The bottom line is that these teams have yet to meet playoff Tatum and Brown as they continue to steamroll through competition.
Chances are as the C’s climb higher into the playoffs, the competition will make things a little closer and definitely harder to pull out wins. The key will be to continue playing as a tight-knit team, and follow behind the leadership of the coaching staff, players like Walker and Tatum, as well as veterans who have been in these situations numerous times.
I know I will be glued to the TV as these playoffs continue, and the eyes of the world will be as well, more than ever in such a time where great basketball can give us all a break from the difficult reality.