Round 2: Celtics vs Cavs

lovegtm

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This is why I made a point of it yesterday lol, it’s so ridiculously over the top.
"The Denver Nuggets, a True Champion, would have allowed Cleveland to take a lead simply to demonstrate the power of their Unstoppable Two-Man Game."

I enjoy the Nuggets, but I'm going to start hating them if this fellatio of their mediocrity continues much more.
 

Mystic Merlin

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As I said in the game thread the coverage of the Celtics is increasingly becoming the equivalent of ‘Celtics: Actually Not That Good.’

I get the boredom and urge to see anything they do or don’t do throughout these games as indicative of how they’ll look in the Finals, but they earned a high seed and have dispatched the hard-playing but inferior teams they drew in relatively easy fashion. Plus Porzingis - a huge chess piece no one else in the field can expect to call off the injured list - likely will play if they make the Finals.
 

riboflav

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"The Celtics Advance to the ECF: Here's Why that's Bad for the Boston Celtics" by KOC

"The Celtics Win by 15. Why Do I Feel Like They Lost by 15?" By Max Strus

"The Celtics Advance to Their 6th ECF in the past 8 Seasons. Is That Any Good?" by Joel Embiid

"Are the Celtics Good Enough to Finally Win it All? We asked Charles Barkley."
 

the moops

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Pretty sure most in here gave the Lakers shit for their bubble championship and the Nuggets shit for theirs because of who they beat. It's the nature of out of market basketball. Even if the Celtics beat a fully healthy Nuggets in the championship, part of the story is going to be their "easy" path to the finals
 

lovegtm

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Pretty sure most in here gave the Lakers shit for their bubble championship and the Nuggets shit for theirs because of who they beat. It's the nature of out of market basketball. Even if the Celtics beat a fully healthy Nuggets in the championship, part of the story is going to be their "easy" path to the finals
Definitely.

That's pretty different from saying "the Celtics don't have what it takes because they are winning series easily", or whatever was scrambling around in Alex Caruso's mind.
 

SteveF

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People might say it. But Jokic is going to be an all-timer, inner circle dude. If the Celtics can beat Denver with that man at the height of his powers, it will be a massive accomplishment.
 

NomarsFool

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I know that teams that are in the hunt but fail to win it all get lambasted, most famously the Bills who lost in four straight Super Bowls. But, what is better, to be one of the top 2-4 teams in a sport year in and year out (and not win) than win it all but then be irrelevant or terrible most other years? Don't get me wrong, I am not at all talking about being in mediocre purgatory. It's hard to win championships. A lot of things have to go your way, and you are always facing one of the best teams in the league when you get there.
 

timelysarcasm

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People might say it. But Jokic is going to be an all-timer, inner circle dude. If the Celtics can beat Denver with that man at the height of his powers, it will be a massive accomplishment.
He's incredible. But he's human, and there are times he's looked uncomfortable - Minnesota did a decent job on defense on him in games 1 and 2.

The key to beating Denver (imo) is not letting Jokic turn his teammates into All-Stars alongside him. I think our supporting cast is better, Denver's bench is weaker this year and we have to take huge advantage of that. But there's a long way to go to the Finals for both teams.
 
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The Social Chair

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He's incredible. But he's human, and there are times he's looked uncomfortable - Minnesota did a decent job on defense on him in games 1 and 2.

The key to beating Denver (imo) is not letting Jokic turn his teammates into All-Stars alongside him. I think our supporting cast is better, Denver's bench is weaker this year and we have to take huge advantage of that. But there's a long way to go to the Finals for both teams.
Winning home games is extremely important against Denver. The altitude is an advantage for them. Having an uber athlete like ANT helps tho.
 
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DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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All things considered, J.B. Bickerstaff did an impressive job this series given what he had available.

Similarly, Mazzulla is doing a great job keeping the right people in the right place for the most part - to be clear he hasn't been perfect. This series was handled pretty well all things considered but my only criteria are wins.
 

Euclis20

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For all the handwringing, winning a series 4-1 with an average point differential of +7.2, about 80 total seconds of crunch time and no new injuries is pretty sweet. Bonus points for Horford and White seemingly breaking out of their slumps in game 5.
 

riboflav

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Immediately after the game 2 loss, several local media, national media, and a few posters said that they wish the Celtics showed out like the Wolves, Thunder, and Knicks. Since those comments, those three teams cited are a combined 2-8. The playoffs are hard and whatever your series may look like in a given moment isn't necessarily indicative of how things may turn out. As Bill said, you can only play the schedule in front of you.
 

Euclis20

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Strus has big Karim Garcia energy, I can't believe that guy is likely to earn around $100M in his career. The only Cav I actively dislike, very happy he's going home.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Strus has big Karim Garcia energy, I can't believe that guy is likely to earn around $100M in his career. The only Cav I actively dislike, very happy he's going home.
I imagine that when Strus isn't being totally annoying in NBA games that he makes his home on the set of and as a zombie extra on the Walking Deadverse.
 

Jimbodandy

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Pretty sure most in here gave the Lakers shit for their bubble championship and the Nuggets shit for theirs because of who they beat. It's the nature of out of market basketball. Even if the Celtics beat a fully healthy Nuggets in the championship, part of the story is going to be their "easy" path to the finals
If your point is "there are morons here too, ya know", I will stipulate.
 

m0ckduck

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Agreed. Also, people aren't paid to come on shows and spout normal stuff
All that's needed to understand the national media coverage at this point is: if you looked at ESPN's NBA homepage yesterday before gametime, you had to scroll through about 30 items before getting to a single image or word of text related to the C's. Over on the Ringer's NBA page, similar situation, and the first C's-related content was the write-up about their _Game 2_ loss.

The Celtics are the RFK candidacy equivalent in terms of national hoops coverage. There are no specific, sane story lines of interest, so the only things that traffic are sweeping skepticism and broad hand-wavey generalizations.
 

Imbricus

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Hats off to Al last night. Every time the "Al's toast, he's too slow" lines get thick, he has an inspired stretch of play. I was discouraged when I saw his lackluster defense of a Garland jumper about five minutes into the second quarter, then he went on a tear: sinking threes, blocking shots, firing a ball heading out of bounds off Dean Wade's leg.

Separately, I'm wondering why we weren't seeing any Tillman. Maybe partly because of the height disparity with Mobley? I'm worried it might be because of knee problems with Tillman. Someone speculated that it was because Tillman gives us nothing on offense, but I don't think that's exactly true; he's a decent passer, and even if he doesn't have a dunk game, he'll get a layup or two. And, unlike Kornet, he does sometimes take (and make) a three-point shot.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I'm a Tillman backer, and would have liked to see him vs Cleveland in spots (especially game 3, where Al's PnR defensive issues were pronounced). I also believe they got him more for specific matchups (Jokic being only one still playing) moreso than as an 'upgrade' on Kornet. Why no Tillman even with KP out? A couple ideas...

1) He may not be fully healthy, and part of the reason to use him vs Kornet would be quickness on the perimeter---which won't be a benefit if he's not fully healthy
2) He surely doesn't know the system and have the familiarity at both ends that Kornet does, given far fewer reps
3) His offensive game is probably broader than Luke's, but it's limited and he's easier to fully abandon - Luke is good at staying in dunker spot and being a vertical threat. So when Mobley is out there, an implication of Tillman playing is you're enabling a pretty disruptive floater defensively

I'm still optimistic he might contribute especially in the right matchup but it's looking like he's even farther down the depth chart than I imagined he would be
 

BringBackMo

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
 

joe dokes

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I'm a Tillman backer, and would have liked to see him vs Cleveland in spots (especially game 3, where Al's PnR defensive issues were pronounced). I also believe they got him more for specific matchups (Jokic being only one still playing) moreso than as an 'upgrade' on Kornet. Why no Tillman even with KP out? A couple ideas...

1) He may not be fully healthy, and part of the reason to use him vs Kornet would be quickness on the perimeter---which won't be a benefit if he's not fully healthy
2) He surely doesn't know the system and have the familiarity at both ends that Kornet does, given far fewer reps
3) His offensive game is probably broader than Luke's, but it's limited and he's easier to fully abandon - Luke is good at staying in dunker spot and being a vertical threat. So when Mobley is out there, an implication of Tillman playing is you're enabling a pretty disruptive floater defensively

I'm still optimistic he might contribute especially in the right matchup but it's looking like he's even farther down the depth chart than I imagined he would be
I dont know if it's his health, and there may be numbers that undercut my eyes, but Tillman has looked not-good about 75% of the time I've seen him play.
 

Don Buddin's GS

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I think some folks are misinterpreting the grossly overused Spero Dedes phrase “find the laces.” It’s a shooting tip to ‘find the seams’ on the ball before you attempt a shot. If you watch the replay he uses it before a shot attempt not after.

Having said that I’m glad we don’t have to hear him anymore.
 

Captaincoop

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Pretty sure most in here gave the Lakers shit for their bubble championship and the Nuggets shit for theirs because of who they beat. It's the nature of out of market basketball. Even if the Celtics beat a fully healthy Nuggets in the championship, part of the story is going to be their "easy" path to the finals
Nobody with half a brain will be questioning anything about the Celtics if they beat that Nuggets team to win a title.

Now, if anyone but Denver comes out of the West, and the Celtics win, the easy path will definitely be a narrative.

And as a Celtics fan, I'll take that because it comes with title #18.
 

chilidawg

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I'm a Tillman backer, and would have liked to see him vs Cleveland in spots (especially game 3, where Al's PnR defensive issues were pronounced). I also believe they got him more for specific matchups (Jokic being only one still playing) moreso than as an 'upgrade' on Kornet. Why no Tillman even with KP out? A couple ideas...

1) He may not be fully healthy, and part of the reason to use him vs Kornet would be quickness on the perimeter---which won't be a benefit if he's not fully healthy
2) He surely doesn't know the system and have the familiarity at both ends that Kornet does, given far fewer reps
3) His offensive game is probably broader than Luke's, but it's limited and he's easier to fully abandon - Luke is good at staying in dunker spot and being a vertical threat. So when Mobley is out there, an implication of Tillman playing is you're enabling a pretty disruptive floater defensively

I'm still optimistic he might contribute especially in the right matchup but it's looking like he's even farther down the depth chart than I imagined he would be
I'm a big UniKorn fan, but he was terrible last night, getting roasted defensively and gumming up the offense with his refusal to shoot. He's a good shooter, great FT%, just take some god damn shots Luke. Good thing we won the Al minutes decisively.
 

Eddie Jurak

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This means 5th ECF in 7 years, Tatum and Brown here for all of them. That's part of why they get flak for not breaking through. No one was criticizing what they did in Tatum's rookie year with Kyrie and Hayward out, or even 2020 in the bubble. But the (as of yet) inability to move beyond what the Ime team accomplished is a different story.
 

tims4wins

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This means 5th ECF in 7 years, Tatum and Brown here for all of them. That's part of why they get flak for not breaking through. No one was criticizing what they did in Tatum's rookie year with Kyrie and Hayward out, or even 2020 in the bubble. But the (as of yet) inability to move beyond what the Ime team accomplished is a different story.
Actually 6 in 8, but Tatum wasn't there in 2017.
 

BaseballJones

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
They were the best team in the league. They’re 8-2 in the playoffs. Yes with injured opponents but Boston also is missing one of their best players. It all counts.

New York would be a challenge but Boston should overcome them. Then it’s a dogfight in the finals against Denver (presumably…not a sure thing yet) which is going to be extremely difficult.

But this is the best version of the Celtics since 2008 and while I’d easily bet the field vs Boston, I think they have as good a chance as anyone left to win it all. After all…Denver may be better (maybe not but maybe) but they haven’t even yet won to the conference finals while Boston is already there.
 

jezza1918

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
IANOOTVBPH (see bolded above), but i think the key word is "appeared." they are 8-2, and definitely played down for stretches...but in those ten games they had 2 bad losses, 1 single digit win, and 7 double digit wins (and of those there were 4 wins of 20+ points). That does feel pretty close to the expected outcome over a ten game stretch, but I may be wrong? That said, they clearly aren't peaking...and IMO need KP back to have a better than 30%ish chance against a team like Denver in finals.
If they play like they did in these two series I dont think they can win. But as has been pointed out in the past, the last Celts champ team featured a core of guys that hadnt yet got it done in the playoffs...needed 7 games to escape a 37 win Hawks team...and another 7 games to conquer Lebron's 45 win cavs (who had a negative net rating). Oh, and without freaking PJ Brown they probably lose game 7 at home.
The optimist in me says they will play better and KP will be healthy. The pessimist in me says immature stretches and KP being a shell of himself means they will come up short. But, to quote Jules Winfield, 'that sh*t ain't the truth." The truth/reality of the situation is we really have no idea because SPORTS. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. And the bourbon/edibles that help make that ride more enjoyable.

*excuse the weird rant Im in a fun mood this morning.
 

benhogan

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Strus has big Karim Garcia energy, I can't believe that guy is likely to earn around $100M in his career. The only Cav I actively dislike, very happy he's going home.
Like Karim Garcia, Strus is a perfectly below-average player. His backstory, sweaty effort, & C&S 3s on the move delight the NBA Media & fans. His 3pt Sniper reputation is laughable at best. He has had a grand total of 1-season in his NBA + NCAA (35% at Depaul) career shooting above 40% from 3.

The Heat didn't miss him one iota this season.

Sam Hauser is a much, much better shooter & would outplay Max if he received similar minutes.
 

jezza1918

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This means 5th ECF in 7 years, Tatum and Brown here for all of them. That's part of why they get flak for not breaking through. No one was criticizing what they did in Tatum's rookie year with Kyrie and Hayward out, or even 2020 in the bubble. But the (as of yet) inability to move beyond what the Ime team accomplished is a different story.
Agreed but at same time this is only their second crack at moving beyond Ime. I think part of this board's (at least mine) pushback against the national narrative around them is that they seem to be getting dinged for already failing this year too. "They didnt beat the first two teams easily enough." "No one cares about getting to another ECF." "None of this matters until you win it all."
Hopefully they use it for motivation and dont succumb to the added outside pressure.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Hats off to Al last night. Every time the "Al's toast, he's too slow" lines get thick, he has an inspired stretch of play. I was discouraged when I saw his lackluster defense of a Garland jumper about five minutes into the second quarter, then he went on a tear: sinking threes, blocking shots, firing a ball heading out of bounds off Dean Wade's leg.

Separately, I'm wondering why we weren't seeing any Tillman. Maybe partly because of the height disparity with Mobley? I'm worried it might be because of knee problems with Tillman. Someone speculated that it was because Tillman gives us nothing on offense, but I don't think that's exactly true; he's a decent passer, and even if he doesn't have a dunk game, he'll get a layup or two. And, unlike Kornet, he does sometimes take (and make) a three-point shot.
I think it’s as simple as he hasn’t been impressive in games or workouts to take any minutes from Kornet. Midseason acquisitions seem to either fit in perfectly or not at all, it’s extremely binary. Just as Gafford/PJ have in Dallas,, Rui in LA last year, others don’t….such as Dinwiddie in LA and apparently Tillman here.
 

astrozombie

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I try not to be a conspiracy theorist or defend Boston teams *no matter what* because I think that feeds the national narrative that every Boston fan is whiny and entitled and everyone is out to get them because of pure jealousy. I also get that media today, it's a lot easier to say "[good team] isn't that good" because in a field of 30ish teams in each of the 4 major NA sports and the variance of the playoffs, anything can happen so there's always a good chance something flukey can happen to favor the field. Plus, no one wants to look like a front runner.
That said... it is weird looking at national pieces and most of it is some variation of "the Cs haven't won anything yet", "do they trade Jaylen when they fall short this year?", "this path is too easy, it doesn't count and they'll get crushed when they face real competition" etc. It's like people nationally look at those 2 losses and think that's who the Cs really are, rather than the 6 wins. 2! over 2 series they have lost twice and both times the other team was scorching hot from 3 - the exact same reason why the Cs offensive strategy is flawed or something according to these same people. And they are doing it without KP. At this point, it's like the contrarian take nationally would be that the Celtics are good actually and might win it all this year. Do they play down to their competition too much? Sadly yes. Are they perfect? No. Do they have weird spurts where they freeze up and stand around while someone plays ISO ball? Sure. But... they still win games and in the case of the Cavs last night actually turned it up at the end to ensure the closeout.
And I imagine this is only going to get worse if/when the Cs play the Knicks. Every Knicks loss will be a valiant effort of a supremely overmatched team fighting and scrapping and showing heart. Every Knicks win will be some paradoxical combination of David beating Goliath and also the Knicks just being the best team in the playoffs.
 

Strike4

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The optimist in me says they will play better and KP will be healthy.
I personally have come to the conclusion that I have underestimated KP's importance to the Celtics, in particular the offense. You can try and recreate what he brings, but with other players, and you can try and do something different set-wise, but it's not going to be the same in practice and maybe that's why things look so uncomfortable at times. I think that's why the offense has been so all over the place, because they are trying to find that sweet spot with all these variables his absence creates.

I took it for granted because sometimes it's like "well KP is out but they have lots of other good players" but it's not like that. He is such a force in terms of spacing and flow that his importance is beyond points or rebounds etc. (All of which has probably been obvious to people smarter than me.)
 

tims4wins

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I personally have come to the conclusion that I have underestimated KP's importance to the Celtics, in particular the offense. You can try and recreate what he brings, but with other players, and you can try and do something different set-wise, but it's not going to be the same in practice and maybe that's why things look so uncomfortable at times. I think that's why the offense has been so all over the place, because they are trying to find that sweet spot with all these variables his absence creates.

I took it for granted because sometimes it's like "well KP is out but they have lots of other good players" but it's not like that. He is such a force in terms of spacing and flow that his importance is beyond points or rebounds etc. (All of which has probably been obvious to people smarter than me.)
It's nut that they are what, like 25-5 without him?
 

RorschachsMask

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
I mean, they have a better net rating in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.

They’re still the Vegas favorites for a reason, I’d ignore the outside noise.
 

Kliq

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I'm leaning towards thinking that pretty much every national media person should avoid talking about the Celtics all together until they reach the Finals. Nothing interesting has come from any discussion so far because they are "supposed" to win all of their games.
 

Seabass

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
I'm a mid poster at best, but I can do optimism on occasion. Here are some reasons to feel positive about the C's:

- The Cavs shot 42% from three, Marcus Morris had a game Steph Curry is jealous of, the team played hard, tight defense the entire game, Evan Mobley had the best game of his life, the Celtics had at least 6 stupid, uncharacteristic and unforced turnovers and they won by 15. That was a ~90% percentile game from Cleveland, and in the end it did not matter.
- They have the best record in the playoffs.
- They are the only playoff team resting right now.
- They did these things without KP for a good chunk, the guy who turns them from a great team to a cheat code team.
- They're +11.3 in the playoffs, no one is within 4 points of them.

This is what they did in the regular season. They are going to lose some games because every team loses some games, but the Mazzullaball Algorithm is churning out the same results it did all season long. They haven't faced the toughest competition yet, but that's because they kicked the everloving shit out of the league this season, so they get to eat the tastiest cupcakes out there.

It's gonna get harder, that's the point. So far they've done everything you could have asked of them. Once they stop doing that, I'll start stressing.
 

lovegtm

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You’re one of our very best posters here, and I am looking for reasons to remain upbeat after consecutive series in which the C’s appeared to play down to the level of severely depleted teams. I am heartened that you remain optimistic that we can win a championship, and I want you to help me feel that way, too! Should we still be feeling good about our chances?
I am hesitant to respond because I'm only an ok poster, and also because I can't tell whether this is serious.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think some folks are misinterpreting the grossly overused Spero Dedes phrase “find the laces.” It’s a shooting tip to ‘find the seams’ on the ball before you attempt a shot. If you watch the replay he uses it before a shot attempt not after.

Having said that I’m glad we don’t have to hear him anymore.
He also used it after someone made a shot: "He found the laces!"

It was super annoying to hear it repeated over and over (in different iterations) on the Cs contest but it really got to me when Ian Eagle used it as well in the small part of the OKC-DAL game I watched.