Celtics

Green light at the end of the Patriots tunnel

Green light at the end of the Patriots tunnel

Defeat is not a lonely venture. We share the darkness with our neighbors, and we brood in our doom together, in solidarity. And while you may find comfort in the shared malaise of the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss, you can also find comfort in the excitement of a new adventure. A new purpose to pursue. A new team to root for…The Boston Celtics.

As the great philosophers Semisonic said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.” What they are (probably) referring to is the sports cycle; the natural order of things in most major American cities. When one pro sports season ends, you move on to the next. In this case, the NBA season, and it’s not just about distracting your mind until the NFL Draft or free agency, it’s about rallying around another valiant cause…bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Boston.

South African cleric Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu was definitely not talking about the seemingly impossible task of making the NBA Finals and defeating the unbeatable Golden State Warriors, but his words still apply. New England fans may feel surrounded by darkness, but there is light. 

The Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best record in the entire NBA. They have MVP candidate Kyrie Irving, whose ball-handling skills make you question whether the Earth might actually be flat (it’s not). They have Rookie of the Year candidate Jayson Tatum, who started the season so hot, people forget he’s still a teenager. They have human highlight reel Jaylen Brown, whose habit of posterizing opponents is borderline criminal. And they have Brad Stevens, the coaching savant disguised as a middle school math teacher, who has led the Celtics to the best record in the NBA vs the Warriors the past three seasons (3-3). No other team is .500 vs.  Golden State over that span. We haven’t even mentioned the growth of Terry Rozier or another All-Star season from Al Horford. 

MORE: CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Danny Ainge joins to talk about the trade deadline

Add it all up and what you have is hope. But in this case, hope is not a cliche on a poster. Hope is a wide-open Eastern Conference and a crumbling LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers team. Hope is a real chance at making the NBA Finals and an actual shot at taking down Goliath. Hope is seeing the green light despite all of the post-Super Bowl darkness. 

It’s time to commit yourself, whole-heartedly, to the Boston Celtics

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Brad Stevens' shortened rotation pays off for Celtics

Brad Stevens' shortened rotation pays off for Celtics

CLEVELAND – Sometimes less really is more.

It certainly was for the Celtics in their 96-83 Game 5 win over Cleveland, a game in which Boston only used seven players before having a couple end-of-the-bench guys in Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele step on the floor for the final 2:36 of play when the game was all but secured.

“There’s a lot that goes into it and I’ll leave it at that,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens when asked about the seven-man rotation.

The most notable absence from the game was for Boston was Semi Ojeleye, who registered his first DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coaches Decision) of the playoffs. Ojeleye has been one of the team’s better defenders against LeBron James.

In the first four games, James shot 28.6 percent from the field when defended by Ojeleye, which was his lowest field-goal percentage against any Celtics player in this series. Only Marcus Morris (111 possessions through the first four games) and Jaylen Brown (62) defended James more than Ojeleye (47).

Ojeleye has learned in his time in Boston to be prepared for anything and everything.

“You never know when your numbers going to be called,” Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why you always have to stay ready, which is what I try to do.”

Boston shortening its rotation appeared to have caught the Cavs off-guard, which was in part why we did not see Kyle Korver enter the game in the first quarter.

“Well, initially he’s [Stevens] been putting Ojeleye in, so that’s been kind of [Kyle Korver’s] matchup when he comes into the game,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “He didn’t play him [Ojeleye], so it kind of threw us for a loop.”

By starting Aron Baynes instead of Morris, it allowed Morris to enter the game without being burdened by or having to worry about early foul trouble.

It worked.

Just like he would not commit to a change to his starting lineup the last couple of games, there’s no guarantee or expectation that he will stick with a seven-man rotation in Game 6, either.

“It has nothing to do with the guys that didn’t play,” Stevens said of the shortened lineup. “All those guys are ready to help when called upon and have great attitudes and have been great teammates.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

No Celtics earn All-NBA honors

No Celtics earn All-NBA honors

The Celtics placed no one on the All-NBA teams announced Thursday.

Though they have eliminated from the playoffs two second-team selections (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid) and are a win away from eliminating a first-team pick (LeBron James). And they could be facing another first-teamer (Kevin Durant) and a third-teamer (Stephen Curry) in the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving and Al Horford of the Celtics missed out on the third team but placed high among others receiving votes.

James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Durant of the Golden State Warriors make up the first team.

The full All-NBA teams: