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The commendable effort of the Celtics youth

The Celtics have every excuse to go quietly into the night, but they did not. Instead, they played like the Hospital Celtics of old and showed us what they’re really made of

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics’ fate has been sealed for a while now. A series of unfortunate events landed the Celtics in the seventh seed to face the superpowered Nets with next to zero chance of winning the series, let alone a single game. Game 3 was impressive, but the Game 4 effort is why I’m so proud of them.

Trailing the Nets by 25 points at home in Game 3 while already trailing 2-1 is a death sentence any way you look at it. Brad Stevens dug dangerously deep into the bench in hopes of survival with three starters missing and got the result we should have all expected.

At one point, our season’s survival was dependent in part by how effectively Jabari Parker could defend Kevin Durant. A Fournier/Langford/Pritchard/Ojeleye/Grant Williams lineup opening up the second quarter to defend the honor of a one-point lead was perhaps the last thread.


Brooklyn outscored Boston 40-26 in that quarter and never looked back.

All I can say about it is that I’m proud to see them go down swinging. This team I’ve invested an unhealthy level of my mental well-being into is fighting to the bitter end and I really couldn’t ask for any more given the circumstances. The difference between the Nets at their best and the Celtics torn to shreds worked out to be 15 points, which is a silver lining I can live with.

I’ve already written on this, but the way the team’s effort was questioned in a season like this was pretty gross to me. They’re ugliest games were among the ugliest in the whole league. Their late season losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers ended a combined 25 games worth of losing streaks.

OKC’s schedule. Cleveland lost their final two games after beating Boston.

The frustration was understandable, but I hope this series answers everyone’s longstanding questions about effort.

Aaron Nesmith’s energy is amazing. He’s like Johnny Damon sprinting directly into the center field wall to catch a pop fly even though he had plenty of space to slow down. Payton Pritchard is more measured, but the effort is consistent all the same. These two get a special shoutout for adapting to the NBA so quickly without any real training camp or summer league. Sure, every rookie is in the same boat, but not every rookie has the Boston spotlight or the Celtics’ collective rotten luck.

Grant Williams, Romeo Langford, and the other sophomores had their rookie seasons cut short by the pandemic and were never afforded a typical offseason to improve their game, and yet have contributed in what has really just become an extension of Year 1.

Robert Williams has a toe injury that I’ve literally never heard of and he still gave it a go. Kemba Walker was obviously injured in Game 3 and still made crucial plays in the 4th quarter. Jayson Tatum was ridiculed for the team’s shortcoming all year and then dropped 50 in the most impressive win of the season by far. They had every excuse to go out quietly and they refused. They stared the guillotine in the face and took a charge as the blade came down.

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