The 2018-19 Boston Celtics have been something of a roller coaster ride of emotions. One moment they’ll look like a title contender and the next like utter garbage. The first two games of the Celtics’ second-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks have certainly played out along such lines. Boston returns home tied 1-1, having been on both the giving and receiving end of a thorough basketball walloping.
While the inconsistency of the year has been frustrating for fans of the team, it’s also created an interesting diversity within the ecosystem of Celtics supporters. Last year’s unit was so predictably gritty and intense that most observers agreed on the appropriate perspective on the team, they were an intensely lovable band of overachievers, winning despite a mounting list of injuries and a lack of experience.
This year - with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward reintegrated into the mix and sky high expectations - the spectrum of potential stances on the season has broadened. You may find yourself oscillating between emotions. You don’t know what to feel or who to agree with. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.
We’ve laid out some of your options. Highlighting seven common personas you might encounter in your search for Celtics truth. Before we dive in let’s first make one note. I’m not big into boxing people into anything that doesn’t work for them. Don’t read these as categories you must align yourself with, but rather use them as tent poles for understanding an up-and-down season that’s likely only going to get more chaotic as this series with the Bucks unfolds.
And with that, let’s begin.
The Eternal Optimist
These folks are the believers in Boston’s talent. They know the power of a Kyrie Irving-Al Horford pick-and-roll. They trust the coaching acumen of Brad Stevens. They choose to ignore the fact that the Celtics have been wildly inconsistent the entire year, focusing on the team’s peaks as proof of concept for Boston’s ability to compete at the highest level.
There is something to be gained from such an approach. The Celtics have, in fact, look nearly unstoppable in their best minutes this year. Boston has a crazy high ceiling, and it’s probably more enjoyable to believe in it than live in a world that’s a little more reality-based.
Sports are meant to be fun after all.
The Committed Pessimists
For some people being negative is fun.
Our friends the Committed Pessimits don’t just call for tempered expectations after big wins. They sow outright distrust, confident that the true identity of the Celtics is a group of frauds who were never as good as anyone said. In their eyes, Brad Stevens isn’t a good coach and Kyrie Irving is definitely leaving for New York this summer.
Party pooping might not be your thing, but the pessimists are just playing the odds really. Boston is far more likely to not win a championship than to win one, and how can you crow about being right if you ever believed the hype?
The Constant Over Reactor
This takes the most extreme aspects of the two groups outlined above and blends them together into one terrifying, manic cocktail of fandom. Every big win is a guarantee of a title, every disappointing loss a referendum on the entire franchise’s inability to do anything right.
What’s that? Kyrie Irving said something mean about his teammates in the media? He’s definitely hates it here. Oh, now he’s taking responsibility for his actions? Raise number 11 to the rafters today because he’s never leaving.
Twitter helps fuel this kind of mindset. If your going to give it a whirl, start with small doses.
The Ironic Observer
An extension of the jokes > facts crew, the Ironic Observer loves to highlight the absurdity of any Celtics match up, and most likely praises Guerschon Yabusele more than reason would dictate. Weird Celtics Twitter has an abundance of these folks.
They’re a strange bunch, but quite fun once you get to know them. A shocking number of Ironic Observers are also massive Marcus Smart stans. No one is quite sure why the correlation exists, but the fact that it does is undeniable.
The Let’s Be Reasonablists
These individuals take being level-headed and logical to the extreme. They’re pounding the Brad Stevens “never too high, never too low” kool-aid like it’s water. The Reasonabilists often provide quite a bit of value in attempting to assess what actually happened in a game. If you’re looking to enjoy the emotional experience of fandom or want to construct an artful narrative arc that takes a few liberties with the truth, maybe leave them be.
If you’re a Constant Over Reactor in need of some grounding, these are the people you should make friends with.
Statistics can be incredibly helpful in understanding the game of basketball, and an increasing number of metrics are available to the public. Statisticians (among Celtics fans not real professional statisticians - I don’t know what they like to do) are eager to share them with you. Some are quite insightful. Some are entirely off-base. Many are presented completely devoid of context. You’re going to want to find a Statistician you can trust before putting much stock in what they have to say.
Numbers tell an interesting story, but they don’t always tell the same story, and sometimes they even tell a false story.
The Tommy Heinsohn Army
These are the true Celtics homers. They’re Eternal Optimists with anti-referee bias. Soldiers in the Tommy Heinsohn Army run the gamut from endearing - much like Tommy himself - to insufferable. Except on very rare occasions Boston is always in the right, and there is no loss that cannot be at least mostly explained by poor officiating.
Unless you count yourself among their ranks, its best to only engage in significant conversation only when you want someone to confirm that a call you thought was a mistake was an egregious one. Otherwise let them enjoy the team they love and join in their jubilation whenever the Celtics win.