The regular season is full of fun and games until you get down to the last 5 games of the season and everything gets real. The last few seasons the Celtics have been fighting for either the 8th or middle of the pack, however, this season they’re in another ballpark.
The Celtics took on LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night for top honors in the Eastern Conference and laid an egg in front of the nation.
Despite what the schedule says this was not a regular season game. It may have been like that for the Celtics but the Cavs knew better. Both teams will advance to the playoffs but only one knows the importance of going in hitting on all cylinders. All season the Celtics were seen as the team that could dethrone the Cavs and I was one of the ones that picked them to do so. So far so good until Isaiah Thomas decided to give the Cavs and the rest of the league a villain to focus on.
Thomas has put the Celtics on his back this season but to be honest they have still managed to stay under the radar even with 50 wins. That’s due in large part to the Cavs struggles, the injury to Kevin Durant and the MVP race that’s between Russell Westbrook and James Harden. That was until Thomas opened his mouth after their last meeting with the Cavs.
Nobody holds me in check. Don’t say that,” Thomas said. “I made plays. I average 30 points for a reason.
I can understand where Thomas was coming from after an emotional and important win but he had to know another Cavs game was coming later on. These are the mistakes the Celtics cannot afford to make. Thomas is at the top of his game now but he also has to realize that he’s speaking for an entire team when he makes comments like this. It’s ok for him to say that against the Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers but to piss of the defending champs or the Golden State Warriors is not the smartest of choices.
The Celtics figured they would welcome the Cavs onto their homecourt and Thomas, Al Horford and Co. and leave with the same outcome. No, the Cavs took command early and never took their foot off the gas. Yes, first place was on the line but so was pride. All five of the Cavs starters scored in double figures while only three of the Celtics starters managed 10+ points. It wasn’t just the scoring that did them in, it was the lack of team ball.
The Cavs starters shared the responsibilities as their shot attempts went like this– 7, 15, 22, 18 and 10. The Celtics were left to watch as their selection was a bit lop-sided with 4, 11. 6, 19 and 8.
Now is not the time for a single player to try to prove a point to himself, the league and his teammates. That was done when he opened his mouth. The Celtics are no longer the underdog here despite what they may think. The team was constructed with two goals in mind–beat the Cavs and win a title.
Along the way, their play and comments have turned them into Public Enemy No.1. Can they handle being the hunted instead of the hunter?