I, for one, am shocked that the Boston Celtics are a mere 2-2 after 4 games. All indications were that this team was going to ride the momentum of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals run to leap ahead of the rest of the field. We were supposed to be unquestionably ahead of the rest of the pack, slaying Eastern Conference foes left and right while leaving no doubt of our dominance.
The New York Knicks? That’s baby food. The Orlando Magic? Easy money. Even the Toronto Raptors, integrating their new star, were supposed to bend to our will as we were set to smite all who dare oppose the Boston Celtics.
Early-season struggles? Unfathomable. Integrating two All-Stars coming off of season-ending injuries? Not a problem. Having a couple of 20-year-olds go from being the 1st and 2nd options to sometimes being 4th and 5th? Stop making excuses. The best defensive team last year isn’t supposed to be (/checks notes) 2nd in the league in defensive rating right now. Inexcusable.
Honestly, the audacity of a team that ranked 20th in points per game last year to be 30th in points per game this year!? What about 18th in offensive rating last year and all of a sudden they want to act like they can just be dead last this year!? Sheesh.
Oh, and don’t you dare compare this year to last year. That team, a Celtics team that also started 2-2, is completely off-limits in this discussion. I mean honestly, who did they even beat last year in their first two wins? The Philadelphia 76ers...and the New York Knicks...Nope, doesn’t ring a bell at all.
For a second, I faintly remembered the general attitude of the national media being “alright, they got a couple of wins against the (before they were good) 76ers and the Knicks. Let’s see something impressive before we’re convinced they can make the playoffs without Gordon Hayward.”
I almost remembered that before I remembered that people expected the team to go deep into the playoffs. There definitely aren’t any old projections on any website of the team missing the playoffs after Hayward’s injury floating on the internet. Not even if you look really hard (/unbookmarks tweets on Twitter from last October).
This is really tongue-in-cheek and for good reason. The Boston Celtics will be just fine.
Sure, they don’t look like the elite team that we crowned them to be all summer. The preseason should have tempered expectations. At the same time, it’s literally been one week of regular season basketball. You can’t come in expecting playoff-level basketball from the jump.
On top of all of the rational, basketball-related reasons to not panic over a regular season loss against a lottery team just 4 games and less than one week into the season, it’s healthier to just relax and maintain a positive outlook on a team that’s literally overflowing with talent.
In some ways, being a bad-ish team that’s surprisingly good is much better than knowing your team is supposed to be a championship contender. Last year, winning sixteen games after watching Gordon Hayward’s injury was like a breath of fresh air. We quickly forgot the despair of the first two games of the season, instead riding the high of the winning streak. Despite it, expectations were still low for the team, and it was just a fun journey full of wins, losses, highs, lows, injuries, picture frames and more.
That’s all gone now. Replacing the fun are expectations. Expectations lead to comparison. “Comparison is the thief of joy” is a quote from our fearless leader Coach Brad Stevens. Understandably, with the pressure to perform and make it to the NBA Finals (and win!) this season, this past week of NBA action has been less than stellar to watch.
Worrying about it won’t do any good, especially over such a short sample size. Basketball in October is never pretty, and the problems the Celtics face aren’t unfixable. In fact, they could probably turn things around in short order. They got good shots against the Orlando Magic last night. They hit 40.7% and 22.5% from 3 and only lost by 3 points. Not every win will be pretty and not every loss will be the end of the world.
If you’re feeling particularly disappointed or distressed about what you’ve seen through eight games (preseason included), I completely understand. Just try to have some patience and (extreme Kyrie Irving voice) remember that expectations are merely constructs that exist to confine your reality to fit an agenda.
So no, the Celtics aren’t in danger. Check back in a few months, and we’ll see. Until then, enjoy the ride one game at a time.