Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Celtics defense, meanwhile, finished the season as best in the NBA. Every player who steps onto the floor for Brad Stevens is fully engaged in the plan, be it switching picks or playing a zone. The Celtics have unleashed those zone-like wrinkles that could swing a series against a Bucks team that was 22nd in the NBA in 3-point percentage.
The matchup just works well for a Celtics team with all the tools to outmatch and outwit Milwaukee. From there they’d get the winner of Philadelphia and Miami.
They CAN get past the Bucks.
They CAN get past Philadelphia.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are monsters on both ends of the floor. They, along with Robert Covington, may well find themselves on the NBA’s All-Defense teams. They can, with their energy and talent, make it exceptionally difficult to score for anyone, much less a Celtics team without its two best scoring options entering the season.
Can the Celtics get past Milwaukee? Yeah, they can, but at this point we’re diving into the semantic “possible” versus “probable” argument.
In a fight where both guys can duck and block most punches, it’s the one who lands the hardest blows who tends to win. The optimism is admirable, but how hard will the Celtics be punching at this point?
Our own John Karalis pens (does anybody still use those to do anything other than sign receipts? anyway), our own John Karalis pens two different scenarios for the Boston Celtics, a ‘best case’ and a ‘worst case’ situation involving the Bucks and the Sixers.
Of course, reality will likely be some mix of the two.
For me, since I’m not a coach or a player, I’m looking past Milwaukee. There is literally no reason on earth for me to be worried about them. I don’t have to suit up and play, I don’t have to strategize. My job is to sit and create and catalog bizarre Celtics pics.
Milwaukee is the seventh seed. They have an interim coach who has done a, let’s be honest here, pretty crappy job replacing Jason Kidd. Heck, if the goal was to stagger into the back-end of the playoffs and waste another year of Giannis, they might as well have kept Jason and saved a bit of money.
Yes, talent tells, and Giannis is more talented than any one Celtics player. But, it’s about talent 1-8 in the playoffs, and with HALF their 1-8 lineup gone (Smart, Irving, Horford, Theis), Boston is still more skilled than Milwaukee.
(for evidence I cite, among other things, the issues Jordan & LeBron had in the playoffs before they had a decent supporting cast)
As far as coaching goes?
Well, let’s just say that if Stevens was coaching the Bucks, they wouldn’t be the 7th seed.
Now, on to the second round.
To start, I’m going to deviate–most respectfully, of course–from my noble and sublimely intelligent boss, the founder of Red’s Army, and a man who needs no other introduction—-
I don’t think the Celtics will be facing the Sixers in the second round.
I think Miami is going to punch them in the nose in game one, and the Sixers are not going to recover.
This is an incredibly young team that, up until about a month ago, did nothing but lose. They have nobody on their team that has the slightest idea what a seven game playoff series feels like. They have nobody on their team that knows how to finish off another team.
This ain’t college. This ain’t shoot out of the gate and hold on tight for the second half and squeak out a win, survive and advance.
This is beat the same team four times. There is a measure of controlled cruelty in the playoffs. You are ending another team’s season by brute force and will–not just by talent.
It took the Celtics awhile to learn how to do that. It will take the Sixers awhile to figure that out (if they ever do–I’m looking at you, Toronto).
And they’re matched up against a coach with two rings, and a team that knows what the playoffs are like.
So, in my world, the Celtics and the Heat are matched up in the second round.
And I wanna tell you, I see some very ugly basketball coming out of that matchup.
Frankly, I think it’s a toss-up which team advances from the second round to the ECF, but if it’s the Celtics, that’s probably where the road stops. If Toronto can get past Cleveland, they will definitely get past Boston, and if Cleveland gets past Toronto, that’ll give LeBron yet another ECF matchup against Boston–he’s done well enough against the Celtics over the years, but the Celtics have gotten younger and he’s gotten older. There will come a time when he’ll again have his season ended by a team wearing green and white, but this year just isn’t going to be that year.
If, by some strange quirk, the Celtics come out of the East, you will be able line up all of the Weird Celtics Twitter tweets from the earth to the moon and back.
And the only thing that will exceed them will be Boston fans complaining about the officiating during the Finals.
So, hey, sit back and enjoy today. Today is the last day where the playoffs are still in the future, where nothing has happened yet, and where (at least in theory) anything is possible.
Page 2 …and on that note:
Finally: Greetings from South Dakota
Since I occasionally throw out a few remarks about my home state, I’ve met a couple readers who are also from this little patch of paradise.
For you, what’s below is not news. For the rest of you, well, since yesterday morning at 7:00AM, we’ve had hail, rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow–every form of precipitation imaginable, as well as thunder, lightning and–nearby in Minnesota–tornadoes. The wind gust charts speak for themselves.
I was going to post a picture looking out my window, but it is very nearly this:
So what’s it take for an April blizzard to stick in the memory of us lunatics here on the plains?
63 mile an hour wind gusts–man, my pioneer forebears must’ve been equal parts tough, stubborn and foolish to live here.
Anyway, thanks for spending a bit of your Saturday with Red’s Army.
Here’s the rest of the links:
MassLive: Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Celtics will guard Giannis Antetokounmpo with Al Horford & ‘everybody on our team’ | Al Horford on facing Boston Celtics’ 2008 team: ‘As hard as it was, it shaped my career in the NBA’ | Boston Celtics’ Terry Rozier: Celtics have had chip on shoulder since Gordon Hayward’s injury
Boston Herald: Terry Rozier understands he’s Celtics’ new leader
NBC Sports: Which C’s would make the best barbershop quartet
Boston.com: How can the Celtics stop Giannis Antetokounmpo?