By: Nick Pooler
I am writing this story as one pissed off Celtics fan. Yes, you may ask, why did he say that when they just advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals? Well the reason is right here.
I have been a Celtics fan my whole life. My favorite player of all time is Paul Pierce ad sometimes I find myself watching old clips of Larry Bird until I fall asleep. I watch every game and even get updates to my phone every 5 minutes when I can’t be around to watch them. One thing that has made me very angry over the past couple years is the amount of doubters. I am not here to say the Celtics are the best team in the NBA, I’m here to say that they deserve a lot more respect than what they are getting.
For this past year, all you have heard from doubters is: “Al Horford isn’t an all-star”, “Marcus Smart flops and can’t control his anger”, “The Celtics are nothing without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward”, “Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes suck and only get dunked on”, “Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum can’t lead a team”, “Who even is Semi Ojeleye and Shane Larkin”, “Terry Rozier won’t keep this up”, “Marcus Morris is a laughing stock”, “The Celtics can’t guard Giannis”, “The Celtics can’t guard Ben Simmons”, “The Celtics can’t guard Joel Embiid”. I know these because these are all quotes from friends or analysts that I have heard and written down over the past year. No matter what anyone says, the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finals and everybody on this team has a purpose.
Al Horford, averaging 17 points, 8.7 rebounds in the playoffs in 12 games. Probably the most doubted this year. Horford made the all-star team and basically got laughed at for it. This man is a true leader. Just wondering how all of the doubters and haters enjoyed his ferocious alley-oop last night late in the game that changed just about everything. Without Big Al, this team wouldn’t have the courage to beat these teams.
Marcus Smart, one of the most hated players in the NBA. For all of the people he has pissed off and gotten into arguments with, he is one tough son-of-a-gun. For all the trash talking Joel Embiid did, I would like to know if anyone saw that rebound Smart got over Embiid earlier in the series? Smart is a floor general that can pace the game so well. Yes, he does need to work on foul shots, but when people say he is nothing but a hot headed punk, maybe they should try saying one of the best defensive guards in the league.
Two players highly looked over and laughed at, Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes. Theis has been out most of the year with an injury but played a huge part in the defensive post game throughout the year. Baynes on the other hand, is only seen as a ginger with a man bun that gets dunked on all the time. Nobody ever sees the parts where Baynes stops the guy. The fact that he can get dunked on like he does and then stand right up and go back again and not be afraid, says a lot. He is full of muscle and won’t let anyone back him down. Crucial part to a playoff team.
You may ask, the Celtics have a leader, a defensive guard, a rim protector, now what is missing? A shooter. Luckily for the Celtics they got two shooters who are going to turn out to be future all-stars. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Both can change the game with their shooting. Both play spectacular defense. Tatum leads the team in the playoffs with 18.8 points per game with Jaylen not to far behind with 16.9. These two are learning to grow fast and it is going to be scary seeing them next year when they don’t have to be the number one option with Irving and Hayward around them.
Terry Rozier came out of nowhere some may say, but truly he has always been capable just never had the chance. He has been a monster, controlling the point guard for the C’s averaging 18.2 PPG in the playoffs. Rozier has changed the culture and has silenced the doubters saying they are done without Irving. Obviously Irving would be ideal, but Rozier has done a damn good job at filling in.
Lastly, two people who play a crucial part, starting with Marcus Morris. Picked up in the trade for Avery Bradley this offseason. It is almost like having another coach. Morris’s numbers aren’t going to stick out on paper, but seeing him in the game and having the confidence that he has is unreal to me. He can guard just about anyone along with Semi Ojeleye who was inserted into the lineup at the end of the Bucks series and was asked to guard Giannis. Sure enough, he jumped right in, couldn’t ask for a much better defensive rookie.
A huge part of this all is Brad Stevens. Coming out of coaching at Butler, I knew he would be good but not this good. Learning in the coaches poll yesterday that he did not receive a single vote in coach of the years just infuriates me and it should make the whole NBA mad as well. Doc Rivers received votes and he didn’t even make the playoffs. Stevens is a top 3 coach in the NBA and has shown it as he heads back to the Conference Finals. Hopefully this time with a different outcome.
So, to sum up my story, I am sick and tired of non Celtics fans saying that it is not our year, or we aren’t strong enough. I mean for God’s sake the 76ers were favored in our series! Zero respect is there. I am not saying they are the greatest team invented. I’m saying that they deserve to be where they are and deserve as much respect as they can get. As they go into playing Cleveland starting Sunday afternoon, try giving the C’s more attention and try to understand that they do belong, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon.