Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
There are those Celtics’ fans who now cringe after every victory, stewing in front of their HDTV, screaming at the clear picture of the baby-faced Brad Stevens, upset when Avery Bradley drains a midrange jumper or Jared Sullinger completes a putback.
These fans are rooting for an implosion, a Boston breakdown that would result in a high lottery pick and one of those college superstars who opened their season this weekend. These fans are not betraying their beloved organization, they are not traitors. They feel as if complete disintegration this season would result in a return to prominence in the future.
So it would have been fascinating to watch those who support the Celtics’ tanking this season in the waning moments of Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat. The Celtics appeared headed for defeat with Dwyane Wade stepping to the free throw line for two shots with the Heat leading by 2.
It was a valiant effort but appeared one more check in the loss column, one more step toward Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Drew Gordon. There must have been a feeling of uneasiness when Wade missed both free throws, including his futile attempt to hit the rim on the second shot with 0.6 left. It was nothing but air and the Celtics received the ball with one more chance to win.
Those nachos, bottles of Sam Adams and Red Bulls consumed during this rather exciting game must have been regurgitated after Jeff Green caught a Gerald Wallace pass in the right corner, Kelly Olynyk screened Chris Bosh and Green hit a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 111-110 win. This does nothing for the Celtics’ chances of landing a premium lottery pick, but it does everything to increase the confidence, chemistry, and purpose of the players who are fighting nightly for respect.
One thing has been apparent with the Celtics during their first seven games of the Brad Stevens era: they play hard for 48 minutes. They may not execute. They may make absurd turnovers and questionable court decisions, but these Celtics are playing passionately for Stevens, which is an extremely encouraging sign for his future and that of his team.
Rooting for the Celtics to tank, essentially to fail every night, leaving a hard-to-shake stench over the organization is rather ridiculous. While victories aren’t as precious or meaningful as they were during the Big Three era, success is still important and development is the primary goal.
Boston Globe - Celtics’ victory should be celebrated, not frowned upon
You know that you are likely one of them. Sure, you root for the Celtics to give a solid, hard-working effort each night but if they lose a close game at the end well then hey, perfect! For the first four games of the season it looked like exactly that. After all, they even found a way to blow a 22-point lead to Milwaukee at home! Awesome! Here comes a better chance at the top pick! Look, we all realize that this upcoming draft is one of the better ones in recent years. It doesn’t happen all that often so yes, tank away!
I can remember in 1997 watching the Celtics just outright tank games all year. They were a joke to the league but C’s fans knew better. The joke would be on them when we would win the lottery and get Tim Duncan. Umm, yeah about that. So, 10 years later I remember watching games all year feeling the exact same way, falling for the same tease. They were once again the joke of the league but we thought: “There’s no way we will lose the lottery again. No way Stern will screw us twice! The NBA NEEDS THE CELTICS TO BE GOOD AGAIN!” Yeah, except we got screwed even worse this time.
It’s not lost on me that blue chippers Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and others are readily available in next year’s draft. The problem is that you just don’t know. So in the meantime you have to do what Brad Stevens is doing, and what Gary Washburn points out: you MUST build a culture, and identity. Given the unbalanced roster and brutal early schedule, I think it’s amazing the job Stevens has done thus far. Add in the facts that he is a college coach learning on the fly himself, it’s pretty remarkable what he’s done.
Will we all have to readjust our expectations? Do we still want them to tank? Would it be fun to sneak into the playoffs and perhaps upset a top seed? There are a lot of emotions right now in the early part of the season for Celtics fans. It’s still a bit early, but the one thing that is already a known fact: this team, a Stevens-led team will play hard and battle to the end against everyone, especially the mighty Miami Heat. Time will tell if it means that last night’s game is one of the few fantastic footnotes of a season filled with expected losses, or the start of something totally unexpected. Either way, it’s great to see Stevens have such a positive impact already.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Scrappy C’s making things interesting | Boston Globe – Celtics shock Heat | Names change, but Boston Celtics’ rivalry with Miami Heat lives on | Adam Silver prepares for life as David Stern’s successor in commissioner’s seat (Sunday Notes) | Boston Herald – Green’s 3 stuns Miami | Old wounds don’t heal | A big kick for Rondo | CSNNE – Stevens cool in clutch, so are the Celtics | LeBron: C’s-Heat ‘not much of a rivalry’ anymore | Good, Bad, & The Ugly: Best win so far