This team is a dominant defensive team. There are no weak spots in the regular rotation players. There’s nobody to pick on. The switches are on point, the rotations are on a string, there are multiple elite communicators, they have length and athleticism, and they work really hard at it. Sure, there are moments when great offensive players get their shots off. There are occasional lapses where assignments are missed or signals are mixed up. But just like an elite shooter, the defense has a short memory. Shooters always know in their heart that the next shot is going in. This defense always knows that the next possession is going to be a stop.
This team is led by two modern NBA stars, two-way players who can beat you in a myriad of different ways. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can defend multiple positions. They are deadly from outside the 3 point arc, they attack the rim, and when they need to get shots off in the midrange they can create their own looks. They drive and kick. They crash the boards. They get out in transition. They make mistakes and have bad games like anyone else, but more often than not, they are making the next right play and impacting winning.
This team is maddening sometimes. The dominant stretches where the Celtics execute flawlessly only make the moments when they don’t all the more mind boggling. Sometimes it feels like they grew up as NASCAR drivers, always turning left, turning left, turning left. Then all of a sudden Ime Udoka dropped them into the Monaco Grand Prix and demanded that they learn how to turn right. They’ve figured out how to do it an elite level, but every once in a while their instinct takes over and they turn left when they shouldn’t and the results are disastrous.
This team is a legit team. Sure, they rely heavily on their two stars to lead the way, but they aren’t carrying the whole load. Marcus Smart is a mad scientist. Sometimes he blows things up, but more often than not he’s blowing up pick-n-rolls and making timely shots. Al Horford is a grad school professor that simply knows the subject matter better than you. Grant Williams is that super annoying character introduced into movies for comic relief but by the end of the film he’s saving the day with a timely heroic action. Robert Williams III is the embodiment of everything I’ve been looking for in a center for the last decade or so. He’s an absolute impact player on both ends without taking anything away from anyone else on the team. Derrick White is BASF (“We don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better”).
This bold, beautiful, crazy, tough, quirky, frustrating, adorable, endearing team. This stumbling, bumbling, recovering, dominating, repeating team. This relentless, resilient, recovering, rebounding, bouncing back team. This team is two wins away from a championship. This team has an elite opponent standing in their way that won’t make any of this easy. This team has a chance at greatness and at history.