Now, reach out. What do you see?”
Luke: “It’s so much bigger.”
I only know one true thing. It's time for the hot takes to end. pic.twitter.com/vAcoYrLPbz— CelticsBlog (@celticsblog) April 21, 2017
Forgive me for geeking out, but the above exchange from the latest Star Wars trailer just speaks to me right now.
The Celtics are a mess right now. They’ve lost two straight to open a first-round series and everyone is absolutely correct to be concerned.
On the other hand, a couple of losses does not significantly change everything that gave us so much hope and expectation for the future.
Both can be true.
There can be balance. But there’s more that we just don’t know yet.
The Dark Side:
There’s plenty to be concerned about. This team can’t rebound. Period, full stop. They are incapable. Initial defensive efforts go to waste because the Bulls grab an offensive rebound and put in an easy layup.
The offense is out of sorts. Boston is turning the ball over at inopportune times (no, I’m not sure when an opportune time would be, but stay with me). There’s a lot of hero-ball going on, and only one guy has earned the right to wear a cape.
Down 2 games to nil and headed to Chicago is not a good look for a #1 seed. Even if they manage to make this a series, this was an epic letdown for a team that had supposedly taken a step forward.
The floor for this team was supposed to be a second-round appearance. If they lose two more games, that is a huge disappointment no matter how you spin it.
The Light Side:
The series isn’t over, if the Bulls are still inconsistent and the Celtics are still the same team that won 53 games.
The upside of this team was always “Eastern Conference Finals where we put up a good fight against LeBron and the Cavs.” This was never a championship contender (though we wouldn’t complain if we somehow lucked into a shot at the Finals).
Despite his official playoff record, Brad Stevens is still an amazing coach that 25 or more teams would fire their own coach to hire if he somehow became available as a free agent.
If Boston can make a few more 3-pointers and open shots they’ll be in a great position to win this series.
The Celtics won 53 games and own the best odds at the number-one pick in the draft. No matter what happens, the Celtics will be adding talent to the team next season. Either through the draft, free agency, or trade. They also have the ability to add Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele. A lot of teams would love to be in that position this summer.
Between the dark and the light there’s shades of grey. From the start this team was never destined to win a championship (barring a series of fortunate events). So does a potential first-round exit really change the trajectory of the team? Well, yes and no.
The Celtics still own the Nets pick, but they don’t know yet where it will land in the lottery. They still have the ability (with some fancy footwork) to create max cap space, but it might be harder to convince Gordon Hayward (for example) that he’s the missing piece if the existing pieces can’t get past round one. Danny Ainge still has great trade chips, but the value diminishes when some of those chips fail to step up in the playoffs. Or if we hold on to those players, are we certain of their ability to lead us to the title in the future?
It is possible to be a firm believer in Al Horford, Jae Crowder, and Brad Stevens and still admit that each of them could be doing more to help the team win. Like I’ve said, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but there’s still hope to spare as well.
There’s more to this story, we just don’t know what the next chapter is, never mind the end of the tale. I’m all in though. I’m hooked and I’m turning each page with eager anticipation. Maybe this team will shock the world and mount yet another Boston area team comeback. Or perhaps they’ll lose the next two games and go down in history as the worst #1 seed ever.
My guess is that there will be something in between and we’ll learn a lot in the process. Let’s see what comes next.