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Season’s end: Takeaways from Celtics-Heat Game 7

Boston fell short in the Eastern Conference Finals, as Miami advanced

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Well…damn.

That sucked.

To fight back, force a Game 7 and then lay a complete and total egg. Just brutal.

There isn’t a lot of point in pulling clips today. It was just a lot of messy basketball, punctuated with brief flashes of competence.

The Boston Celtics were completely and thoroughly throttled by the Miami Heat. Boston never got anything going offensively that was remotely sustainable. The defense wasn’t much better.

This wasn’t an effort thing, outside of the end of the game. The effort was there. The execution was not.

The game started on an ominous note when Jayson Tatum turned his left ankle pretty badly just 26 seconds in. He wasn’t able to be effective after that.

That’s where having a second All-NBA wing is supposed to be your saving grace. Instead, Jaylen Brown, by his own admission, failed.

Brown struggled to create anything good as the main engine driving the team following Tatum’s injury. His own shots were often rushed, contested or both. He had eight turnovers, against just eight made field goals and five assists.

But this is far from all on Jaylen Brown. No one from Boston, outside of Derrick White, played particularly well. They figuratively, and quite literally, went out with a limp.

The Celtics were bad. The Heat were good.

Basketball is pretty simple like that sometimes.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much of Succession lately, but I’ve been thinking a lot about endings. Maybe it’s just the natural rhythm of my year being very much based on the NBA calendar. Maybe it’s because my time here at CelticsBlog is wrapping up. But endings have been very much on my mind.

We’re programmed from a very young age to expect a happy ending. That’s just how fairy tales go. The good guys go through a lot, but they rise up and defeat the bad guys. It’s how the story is supposed to go.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way.

There aren’t always sad endings. This space is never quite that melancholy, even at our lowest, to believe that. They say it’s the hope that kills you, but really, the hope is all we have. So, we aren’t about to drop into “Everything sucks and the world is ending” territory.

Sometimes there are just endings.

Neither good, nor bad. Sometimes things just end. Often in a way we didn’t want. That’s sort of how the Celtics season ended.

It wasn’t the abruptness of a buzzer beater. It wasn’t the “This is over” from minutes in type of game either. Instead, it was kind of a long, disappointing slog to the finish. To Game 7. To the season. To maybe this core’s run.

All of a sudden, but not really suddenly at all, it was over.

Now, we try to figure out what happened, all while hoping we won’t feel this way a year from now.

There’s been a lot of “It would have been better to just get swept” and even some “Should have just lost to Philly” out there.

Can’t agree.

One of life’s biggest existential questions is: “Is it better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all?”

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you love the Boston Celtics. Maybe you were born into it. Maybe you just liked the color green. Maybe you came to the team because your favorite player landed in Boston. Maybe you went to college in the area and fell in love then.

But you’ve stayed because you found that love. You’ve found your community. Lots of us here have some of our dearest friends, because of the Celtics. It’s probably fair to bet that some of those friends we hold closest are people we’ve never even met outside of our virtual connection, with the Celtics acting as the hub.

Today sucks. The end of the season always sucks unless you’re planning a parade. But even then, that joy is fleeting. It’ll never be the same.

The guys in green will change. There will be trades, signings and others will leave in free agency. Some will stay the same, both others will be but footnotes on a Basketball Reference page. Something to laugh about later when you look at the 2022-23 Boston Celtics page and remember “Oh yeah! That guy was a Celtic!”

In our shared fandom, someone whose posts you looked forward to won’t be there anymore. We hope it’s for good reasons. Maybe they got busy with a great job. Maybe their family life has pulled them away. We’ll grin and remember them, hoping they’re doing ok.

Sadly, others will leave us entirely. It’s all part of this grand adventure we’re on. The only thing we really share is that it will end for all of us eventually.

But that’s not really true, is it? We share our love of this stupid, frustrating, amazing, wonderful team.

So, yes, it’s better to love and lose than to never love at all.

My dad is fond of saying “Man plans, God laughs.” He says it so much that I’ve run the full circle of finding it consoling, then condescending and back to consoling.

My sincere hope was to write one last version of the Takeaways after the Boston Celtics won Banner 18. I had it all planned out too. There were going to be 18 Takeaways, because I’m nothing if not cheaply clever.

Alas, “Man plans, God laughs.”

This isn’t the happy ending I wanted. But it’s not a terrible ending either. It feels pretty terrible today. And it probably will for at least a few weeks. But really, it’s just one ending to beget another new beginning. The NBA circle of life is unending and churns ever forward.

The NBA Draft will come. We’ll fall in love with someone new at Summer League and put unreasonable hopes on them for the upcoming season. Brad Stevens will make a trade or two. Some veteran will sign to fill out the bench. We’ll proclaim those the moves that we need to get over the hump.

And we’ll all be ready to chase Banner 18 again. Together. All fresh and new, combined with what’s comfortable and familiar. It feels so far away, but it’ll be here before we know it.

Hope springs eternal. And the hope doesn’t kill you. It gives you purpose. It gives you reason to believe in something bigger. Something we all share in. Something we all love.

That love sometimes bring pain. Today sucks. Big time. But it only sucks because we love the Celtics so much. That love persists. That love will bring us back with the belief that Banner 18 is coming.

I want to close by thanking all of you who have read the Takeaways over the years. This project just sort of started out of nowhere. I had thoughts from the games, often quick hits that weren’t long enough for a standalone article. So, we did this list-based article once. People seemed to like it, so we kept doing it. 10 Takeaways became the brand, but eventually just morphed into Takeaways. Always here after every game, win or lose.

It has been the absolute joy of my basketball career to bring them to you after each game. This season, I wrote 106 versions of the Takeaways. I wanted to write at least four more, but that wasn’t in the cards. So be it. We move.

That you take the time to read them, share them, and comment on them, that means more than you’ll ever know. The good news? The Takeaways aren’t going away. CelticsBlog colleague Adam Taylor is going to pick them up and he’ll take them in his own unique direction. I can’t wait to see what he does with this corner of the internet.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write for you over so many years in this space. Go Celtics.

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