It’s no secret that the NBA is driven by their stars. From Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, to Jordan in the 90’s, to today’s array of super teams, it’s been proven time and time again that star power wins.
There’s been little to no argument that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will face off in the rubber match of their, soon to be, third consecutive finals matchup. Parity is gone and the NBA ratings reflect that this year. People were simply less interested in games that did not include Russell Westbrook or the two contenders. Shouldn’t the fans want underdogs to succeed?
This is where the Boston Celtics come in. This season, they finished with 53 wins and the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. This exceeded everyone’s expectations, even the most unrealistic Celtics fans. The Cavaliers coasted for most of the season, but regardless, the Celtics took care of business and clinched home-court in the East.
Outside of this, 5’8 Isaiah Thomas established himself as a bona-fide superstar. He finished 3rd in the NBA with 28.9 points per game, which also happened to be the 2nd highest in Celtics history. Despite all of this, the Celtics got no love. Isaiah got no love. They were counted out already.
Just days after the team’s leader goes through something so tragic, they lose two straight games to the Chicago Bulls. Emotion was certainly high, not just for Isaiah, but for the entire team. Yet, it became widely argued that the Celtics were indeed the worst #1 seed of all time.
It’s tough to lose two straight games at home to an 8-seed, but the media and basketball fans spoke too soon. Four straight wins for the Celtics and they were off to the second round with momentum. This Celtics team is very streaky, largely due to their reliance on the 3-ball, but when they’re playing well it’s hard to not admit they’re not one of the worst #1 seeds in NBA history.
Now, the expectation for these Celtics were never to be in the Finals. The Cavaliers are the heavy favorites regardless of what the standings say, and for obvious reasons.
Celtics nation was realistic, expecting a first-round win, and wanted a 2nd round win. So far, the C’s are on the right track to match those goals set by their fanbase. After two thrilling home wins to start the 2nd round, they maintained a 6-game win streak, and a 2-0 series lead before dropping game 3 on Thursday night. Even after 6 straight playoff wins, people still doubt these Celtics.
The Celtics started Game 1 very poorly, prompting this tweet doubting both Stevens and Thomas. The Celtics finished the game on a 123-98 run, stealing game 1, led by none other than the little engine that couldn’t (33 points, 9 assists). Then in Game 2, the little engine that couldn’t poured in 53 points, including 29 in the 4th quarter and OT to will the Celtics to victory on none other than his late sister’s birthday.
The Celtics got blown out Thursday night. Count them out for this series, I dare you. It seems that they play better in a hole, when everything is on the line. But at what point will credit be given to this overachieving team?
Remember, this team was not supposed to be here. Isaiah was not supposed to be here. He was too small, and not good enough. The Celtics were collecting assets and picks for the future. Trading for Thomas was just another step in the rebuild. The Celtics still have the highest chance for the #1 overall pick this summer. But now, they have a 2-1 in Round 2 of the playoffs, led by a 5’9 superstar as well. The sky is the limit.