After a promising Game 1 win, the Boston Celtics have dropped three in a row to the Milwaukee Bucks, including two at home. They’re done.
Put a fork in em
That’s all she wrote folks
Any cliche you could think of similar to the three above can accurately describe the state of the 2018-19 Boston Celtics, the most frustrating team since the franchise was rejuvenated by the Big Three.
These Celtics surpassed all expectations and then some last year when they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They came into this season with hopes of winning a championship, and almost no evidence pointed to the contrary.
And then the regular season happened. Ups and downs, highs and lows. The Celtics put on every performance imaginable during the regular season. They beat the Bulls by 56 points, handled the Sixers with regularity and destroyed the Warriors at Oracle, just to name a few great games.
Then there were the losses to the Suns, the 28-point blown lead against the Clippers and the 18-point fourth-quarter lead they let get away in Charlotte. The Celtics would give you a reason to believe they were the team everyone thought they could be, but then turn around and make you question everything you thought you knew about basketball.
The playoffs have been no different. Boston looked great against Indiana. They were engaged defensively, didn’t let missed shots negatively impact their effort, and they exploited the Pacers’ weaknesses en route to a sweep. The Celtics’ impressive play wasn’t limited to the first round either, they looked unstoppable in Game 1 against the Bucks. I thought a Finals trip was inevitable.
They stayed right on brand. Gave us all a reason to hope and believe they had changed but really, they never did. Defensive effort lacked, they practically ignored mismatches presented to them and showed absolutely no heart or fight when the Bucks hit them in the mouth.
I think that’s what bothers so many people about this team. It’s not that they’re struggling to figure out how to effectively incorporate so much talent on the floor at once, but instead, it’s the way they completely fold in the face of any adversity. Brad Stevens-coached teams have never had that issue. NEVER.
Perhaps it was too much to ask young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, all of whom had great success in the postseason last year, to give up minutes and their featured roles in the offense.
Perhaps Kyrie’s issues as a leader coupled with his impending free agency loomed too heavily on the team. Maybe the season would have gone differently if Hayward didn’t have a setback in his recovery.
Perhaps Stevens’ philosophy of empowering every player to be the best version of themselves just didn’t fit with a roster so stacked on young talent.
Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter now. This team is finished. They face a Game 5 on the road against a Bucks squad that clearly has their number. Milwaukee has made it incredibly difficult on the Celtics offense, continue to attack the basket on the other end and Boston’s response has been the equivalent of a shoulder shrug and a blaming look at somebody else.
It’s a shame this season became such a disappointment. The offseason ramifications are still unclear, but at this point, I don’t care. Just get this season over with.