I’m from Dorchester but have lived in Austin, TX for the past ten years. My parents grew up in Boston and have never lived anywhere else. My sister, up until recently, was a staple of the Boston Red Sox organization and is as Boston as it gets, and my brother owns a thriving business in Marina Bay (shoutout to The Modern Dog Boston). I’m also a BLS and Boston College graduate, so living outside of Boston never crossed my mind until it actually happened.
One day, I was living on the same street as my parents, and the next, I was in a city over 2000 miles from home chasing the dream of becoming a professional musician. Being away from my family is one of the hardest parts about living down here, but one thing that has always kept me connected to my roots is my love for Boston sports, especially the Boston Celtics.
I was born in 1989, so most of my childhood was spent rooting for terrible basketball teams, never realizing how bad those teams were. I remember cheering for Rick Fox (family legend has it that he once skateboarded over my Uncle Jim’s car in Waltham), Todd Day, Greg Minor, and my childhood hero, Dana Barros. I remember Ron Mercer and giving up on Chauncey Billups. I remember being 11 years old thinking Jerome Moiso was going to be a huge addition. The team wasn’t good, but I just loved watching my Celtics.
Obviously, the early Paul Pierce years had their moments, but things changed forever with The Big Three. Kevin Garnett was my older brother’s favorite basketball player (to this day almost all of his usernames involve “KG”), so that’s when my family decided to splurge for season tickets and I began attending basketball games live on a regular basis. My all-time favorite game I saw live? Game 7, Pierce vs. LeBron. The experience literally transformed my life. I think I may have died at some point in that game and been reborn as someone who, in addition to my love for music, aspired to write about and cover basketball with this new, elevated perspective of the game.
Living down here in Austin does not afford me many opportunities to see the Celtics in person, but each year I make the trip with my best friends to catch the Celtics square off with the San Antonio Spurs. It’s one of the highlights of every single year. Saturday’s game was no exception, so I figured I’d write about my big takeaways from seeing my first live game since the pandemic began:
Celtics fans travel
As we entered the arena, we started to see a handful of green jerseys, but by tipoff, I’d say the attendance was at least 30% Celtics fans. I’m always interested in which players get the most love on the jersey front, so here are my rough estimates: 40% Tatum, 35% Brown, 10% Bird, 5% Pierce/KG/Ray, 5% Marcus Smart, 5% miscellaneous. Also, there was one guy wearing a Ben Coates Patriots jersey. He has to get some love in this piece.
Rob Williams is superhuman
I haven’t seen this version of Rob Williams in person because the last time I was able to attend a game in person, he had yet to crack the rotation. Rob was everywhere in this game and you could feel his presence every second he was on the court. It reminded me of watching a young Dwight Howard in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Spurs players were scared of him and Rob’s teammates were emboldened by his presence. Blocking a three-pointer and going coast-to-coast is something only a handful of guys in the NBA can pull off, and Rob is one of them. I love him so much.
Joe Mazzulla’s closing lineups were confusing
Malcolm Brogdon had it going last night. Rob Williams was spectacular. Al Horford was not. He looked a step slow most of the night and was not impacting the game on either end. Based on the flow of the game, I would’ve expected to see the Celtics close with Brogdon, White, the Jays, and Rob. Mazzulla saw it differently and it was a factor in that collapse.
At the 5-minute mark, Rob ran to the scorer’s table, but Mazzulla stopped him and sent him back to the bench. Considering Rob eventually subbed for Brogdon, I can see why Coach decided to hold him out a couple more minutes, but it felt obvious in the arena that Rob should’ve been on the court in favor of Horford. Hopefully, Coach takes his end of game lineups a bit more game-by-game and goes with the guys who have earned it that night. We have the talent and depth to do so.
The Spurs love Derrick White
There was a touching tribute to Derrick White before the game, and he got cheers from the home crowd whenever he did anything throughout the game. White was impactful in his minutes and looked confident all night. With Smart going down with a knee contusion, hopefully White can continue to show signs of improvement after a rough December.
Josh Richardson will be on another team by the trade deadline
I never wanted to trade J-Rich. I thought he added some great wing depth to our team last year, but ultimately, he was a casualty in the White deal. However, Richardson can still play and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t dealt before the deadline. I think he’s a rotation player on a good playoff team, and I hope he gets a chance to play meaningful minutes this year.
Romeo Langford had his moments
I’m no Adam Taylor, but I always liked Romeo Langford. He had a rough go of it around the rim last night, but he looked good overall. He was a problem on the boards and played effective defense all game. I’m not sure he’ll have a long career in the NBA, but I think he’ll get a second contract.
Tune into this episode of Green With Envy for more conversation about the Celtics recent play and a look ahead at the next few games!