The Boston Celtics fanbase needs to get its act together.
The past 2-3 weeks have been an absolute rollercoaster ride. Whether we were acting like the sky was falling over a small March dip or losing our minds over a few non-committal Jaylen Brown quotes from an interview in January, the fanbase has felt...clenched...since the All-Star break came to an end. But that perception doesn’t match reality.
Robert Williams is back on the floor looking like Robert Williams again. Marcus Smart is back getting hit in the jewels every game. The balance has been returned to the team. It’s time to de-clench. The run has begun.
I think we need to start with establishing something very important here. Elite teams losing basketball games in March has no bearing whatsoever on them winning a title. Seeding is important, but the Celtics have been the best road team in basketball this season. A 24-14 record away from TD Garden is freakishly good and an 8-4 road record in the playoffs last season should again calm anyone’s nerve’s about seeding.
I know you don’t want to push it, but we all watched the Celtics win two Game 7s on the road just last playoffs. Heck, I was in the building for their game against Miami. While I’ll never forget the sound of Jimmy Butler’s missed 3 clanging off the rim like he threw an actual brick at it, a win is a win is a win.
But despite those records and those very impressive wins, Celtics fans were losing their minds over a mid-March loss to the Houston Rockets. Sure, you never want to lose to the Rockets at any point, but it’s JUST another random road game on the schedule. Same thing with them losing a barn-burner to the Jazz on the road a few days later. Ironically, despite Celtics fans claiming the sky is falling, the Celtics would face off against the Sacramento Kings, the #2 seed in the West, just eight days later and beat them by almost 30 in their own house. Something isn’t matching up here.
After all the chaos and tumultuousness since the All-Star break, the Celtics currently sit at 51-23. Despite a rookie coach, Rob Williams playing 30 games, Marcus Smart dealing with injuries, and Jayson Tatum shooting sub-30% on pull-up 3s, the Celtics have already passed their win total from last season. After one of the great 2nd half runs in NBA history, the 2021-2022 Celtics finished the season 51-31. This team will easily surpass that number and might even pass the 2017-2018 team that finished with 55 wins. They have the 3rd best offensive rating, the 4th best defensive rating. They lead the NBA in net rating! This team is really, really good!
I’m not sure if it’s a case of ridiculously high expectations, but it feels like no one besides the meanly titled “green teamers” are even enjoying this season anymore. By the way, can we end that term? Shaming people for being positive towards the team they support is a resoundingly weird thing to do, especially for a fanbase that is as large as the Celtics.
Anyway, my larger point is that watching a good basketball team is supposed to be fun. The Celtics are about to finish their 7th straight season of 48+ wins (I am openly ignoring the 2020-21 COVID season), they have the 2nd most wins in the NBA in that span with 343! That’s a lot of winning!
I beg of you Celtics fans, enjoy this team. The title run is here, Rob Williams is back, Tatum looks like himself again, Jaylen Brown has been face-meltingly hot for a month now. It’s time to de-clench and get behind this team again.
Before we close this out, let’s actually have a real conversation about Jaylen Brown. First of all, I think we should all appreciate how complex of a human being he is, but also how willing he is to share that side of him with the fanbase. Most athletes are very guarded and refuse to show their hand. Jaylen has always been pretty transparent about where his head is at and where his priorities are. He’s not without mistakes or missteps, supporting Kanye West in the midst of his controversy may not be the best look, but he’s given good enough explanations for his relationship and has publicly moved on from it.
After two recent interviews where he talked about his past and future with the Celtics, I think the Celtics fanbase was split almost in half on receiving news that an athlete wants to be paid the maximum amount by the team they play for. It was a bit startling, none of his quotes suggested he didn’t want to play for the team or was actively looking to leave. Here is the full quote:
“We’ll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time. Hopefully, whatever it is, it makes sense. But I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct.”
Maybe I’m just biased, but this seems like a pretty straightforward quote. “I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct.” That says to me, if the Celtics pay me what I’m worth, I have no reason to leave. Isn’t...isn’t that a completely normal thing to say? Don’t we all want to be properly paid and respected by our employers?
Not to mention, he’s a VP with the NBPA! His whole job is to publicly and privately represent the player’s interest as a whole. Him taking below-market deals or publicly stating that he is going to stay no matter what would not reflect well on his position. If you pay attention, he has stated multiple times how much he cares about his VP role. I don’t think he’s going to sacrifice that just to make Celtics fans happy during interviews. I think if you take an objective look at this situation, Jaylen Brown will likely be a Boston Celtic for a very long time if they are willing to pay him what he’s worth. I can’t imagine him leaving a championship-contending team in its prime if they offer him the full max, but even if he does, he’s given Celtics fans everything he could during his time here, despite them not really giving him that same respect back.
I think Celtics fans have been caught up too much in the minutiae of this season. It’s easy to get sucked in with expectations being this high, but once you broaden the scope, the situation looks much more promising. #2 seed in the East. Team getting healthy at the right time. Jaylen Brown taking another leap on the court. Tatum being aggressive at the rim again. Rob Williams is actually on the court, playing basketball!
When the Celtics are in the middle of their playoff run in about a month’s time, no one is going to be thinking about a random loss to the Rockets in March, we’re all going to be at the edges of our seats hoping they can get through another tough Eastern Conference playoff bracket. This is a special team playing for a special franchise hoping to get to the very pinnacle of the sport. I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I know where I’d put my money right now.