The only question more popular these days than whether there are more doors or wheels is whether or not the Celtics are title contenders.
While the answer to the first question is clearly wheels and the second is clearly yes, sometimes it’s refreshing to just accept that we don’t know something and let the lack of clarity peacefully exist.
In a few months, the playoffs will unfold however they do, and the fan with the Celtics 2022 NBA Champions tattoo will either look like a genius or a fool. Oftentimes as sports fans, it’s tempting to focus solely on the end result. However, it’s refreshing and worthwhile to appreciate the journey and the upward trajectory that it took to get to that pinnacle.
Some seasons are different, of course. In a true championship or bust year like the 2007 Patriots or the 2016 Warriors, where anything short of a title is a disappointment, having tunnel vision is somewhat inevitable. As those seasons showed, though, nothing is a guarantee.
For a team on the other end of the spectrum, like this Celtics squad – one that was fairly dismissed and considered bound for the play-in tournament – it’s more fruitful to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The Celtics are playing some of the most aesthetically pleasing basketball they have since the Big Three era. This is arguably their most riveting regular season since that era as well, along with perhaps 2016-17 when Isaiah Thomas improbably willed them to the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
That season had drama, intrigue and organically produced a magical storyline, and this one is unfolding in its own spectacular way. If someone said back in late January that the then-25-25 Celtics would be in contention for the top spot in a very competitive conference with nine games left, it would have been fair to look at that person like they had two heads.
It wasn’t that it seemed unlikely. It seemed impossible. This has been one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NBA history and Boston sports history. Winning 21 of 24 games (87.5 percent) is absurd for any team, never mind a team that was stuck at .500 before the run began. For context, the Warriors’ win percentage in that record-setting season was 89.
The Celtics play as a team, play hard and play with conviction. They play defense, they move the ball and they turn down good shots for great ones. Watching them underachieve once felt like a chore, and now it feels like a privilege. The quality of basketball brings pure joy, and it’s an awfully fun way to spend a few hours. Whether they end up becoming champions or not, they’re playing like champions right now. This is a team Tommy Heinsohn would have loved and one that embodies what Boston is all about.
Now that the bar is set high, it’s natural to expect greatness in the playoffs. It’s fair to partially measure this season by how the Celtics do in the postseason, but regardless of how it all shakes out, this regular season should be celebrated as one of the most scintillating in franchise history.
Celtics fans should enjoy these last nine games, as Boston fights for a 1-seed that seemed laughably unattainable just a few months ago. It’s fun to predict the future, but don’t forget to cherish the present along the way. There may never be another regular season quite like this one.