Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
"Way to welcome your fans back," shouts someone from the crowd.
"You suck," yells another.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 30, 2021
“I’m pretty sure I was just uplifting him. That’s just my brother,” Walker said. “You can tell when guys are upset with themselves. So I was just trying to uplift him and give him confidence, just like he would do for me.”
Walker and Tatum, the two players who spoke after the game, didn’t show up for interviews for an hour. At this moment, who knows what took them so long, but it certainly was out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they were eager to wait out the media after this one as the thrilling near comeback couldn’t mask the subtle odor of mediocrity emanating from this team all season.
Nobody in the organization is hiding from that, and it only seems so rotten because this team is so full of talent. With Fournier on board to replace Gordon Hayward, they now essentially have the same core that almost made the NBA Finals last season. They shouldn’t be stuck in this cycle of crossing back and forth over the .500 mark. COVID-19 has hit everybody, but it has hit this team more than any other.
That’s a legitimate excuse for why the Celtics are having trouble realizing their talent. But the systemic flaws and their repercussions are why they are light years away from their potential.
Absent from most discussions of last night’s game: Mention of the fact that the C’s were once again without one of their key players.
If a lack of consistency has been the issue with the C’s over the course of the season, then the problem is either due to the fact that the team has forgotten how to play in a consistent fashion, or there is some other cause.
If we’re looking for other causes, it’s not hard to find an obvious one: injuries and illnesses.
Tristan Thompson after spending time in quarantine earlier this year actually contracted COVID. Rob Williams got COVID. Romeo Langford got COVID. Jayson Tatum got COVID. That’s FOUR of the C’s rotation players who have missed significant time due to COVID. Smart missed over a month with a torn calf muscle. Kemba Walker needs load management on his knee due to the compressed schedule. Jaylen Brown has missed multiple games with bumps and bruises, including last night’s contest. Rob Williams missed significant time with hip issues, and seems to finally be out from under a minutes restriction. Romeo Langford missed a huge chunk of the season recovering from surgery. Heck. Fournier missed his first two games as a Celtic due to a false positive on a COVID test.
If there’s a team in the league that has been more snakebit when it comes to health over the course of the season, I’d like to know who they are.
So, as Celtics fans, what are our options?
We can (A) pretend that the C’s aren’t very good—that, essentially, the health issues have had minimal impact on the team’s winning percentage.
The fun of going with option (A) is that we can pretend that we’re smarter than Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. And that’s pretty much what lies behind a lot of the negative takes around this team. It’s so very self-flattering to be able to pretend that we, mere casual observers, know more about basketball than Ainge and Stevens. See, if we can’t feel good about the team, at least we can bask in the assurance that we’re smarter than the team’s brass.
Option A comes in many different forms: Criticism of rotations, criticism of starting lineups, criticism of personnel moves that were made and weren’t made, the proposing of hypothetical trades that were never executed, and so forth. There are so many different ways that you can be negative about a team. It’s like the observation at the beginning of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
Everyone has their own type of negativity that they can direct at the team.
And most of the negative energy directed at the team never even comes to their notice.
You hate-tweet something about Brad Stevens during the middle of a game and… it just goes out into the ether. He’s not going to read it. Ainge isn’t going to read it. It’s not going to make a bit of difference in how the game progresses.
However, we also have option (B): Positive waves.
Because ultimately, that temporary rush that comes from blasting the team that you ostensibly root for is just that: Temporary.
Now I’m not going to say that it’s easy to have positive feelings about a team that’s a game under .500 two-thirds of the way into the season. Far from it. But we’re not talking about the 2018/19 team, which clearly had underlying issues. We’re talking about a team that has been consistently playing without a full deck.
We’ve all got a choice: None of us are obligated to make angry remarks about the team on social media.
And don’t think that being positive about this team means ignoring the team’s record. It means looking at a team that can be great and expecting that they will be great.
The rest of the links
MassLive: Boston Celtics appreciated having fans at TD Garden despite another disappointing finish | Matt Vautour | Celtics’ bad habits resurface: 4 things we learned from Boston’s loss to the Pelicans | Evan Fournier’s shooting woes in Boston Celtics debut ‘will be just a small blip’ according to Brad Stevens | Zion Williamson outduels Jayson Tatum as Celtics fall 115-109 to New Orleans Pelicans
Boston Herald: Celtics fall to Pelicans, 115-109
NBC Sports: Celtics vs. Pelicans observations: Evan Fournier has his worst game of the season | RSN (nbcsports.com) | Celtics vs. Pelicans highlights: Pels get hot from 3, beat C’s 115-109 | RSN (nbcsports.com) | Evan Fournier makes NBA history with rough Celtics debut | RSN (nbcsports.com) | NBA Rumors: Celtics among teams interested in Bradley Beal | RSN (nbcsports.com)