Watching the five bubble games the Celtics played is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. Less than a week ago the Celtics were a pack of frauds, showing lackadaisical effort closing out on shooters and coached by a nimrod who’ll rather play Enes Kanter and Semi Ojeleye over the more competent personnel on the bench.
Squandering a game versus Milwaukee where the referees gifted the Celts 29 free throws, blowing a 25-point lead versus Portland, and losing to Miami despite them not having Jimmy Butler. The final loss I blame solely on Brad Stevens love affair playing Brad Wanamaker over Tremont Waters, Semi Ojeleye over Romeo Langford, and Enes Kanter over Grant Williams. Stevens is a lot like Doc Rivers where he doesn’t trust anyone under the age of 26. Which explains why Wanamaker is allowed to fuck up to the extent he routinely has and face little to no consequence. How I loath them both and want them both ejected from the bubble.
Suddenly Stevens decided to shorten his rotation versus the Raptors, limiting Kanter’s minutes to a mere zero and (surprise, surprise!) the Celtics beat the doors off them. Defensively they played the best ball they have all season. Holding Toronto to 14 in the first quarter. Could we attribute the decisive performance on the defensive front solely to the Celtics not playing Kanter? Yes. Yes we can.
The lone anomaly is Wanamaker not killing us. Six-for-eight, and 15 points. That’s never happening again. But I’ve given up on Stevens having a revelation Wanamaker is beyond useless.
But regardless, the landscape is vastly different than what it looked like 72 hours ago. After the loss to Miami, the Celts regrouped and cleansed their pallets with these last two wins. Their likely first round opponent Philadelphia lost Ben Simmons for the season to injury. Depending when they despatch of the Sixers, the Celtics could look at Hayward departing the bubble to witness the birth of his fourth child as inconsequential. The Celtics should be able to handle Toronto without Hayward. And the Heat in the second round versus Milwaukee could very well end in an early Giannis departure.
The loss of Simmons isn’t crippling for Philadelphia, at least versus Boston. Josh Richardson and Shake Milton are killers. While Simmons kicked our ass this season, the Sixers are hardly without alternatives. But in the games Boston played vs Philadelphia they put our wings in the torture chamber mostly attributed to Simmons defensive skills. With him out of the picture it leaves open the option of at least one of our wings kicking ass and that’ll make a world a difference for us.
The route to the finals for Boston is clear. It’s possible. Will it happen? Only time will tell.