By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Jaylen Brown

My totally unasked-for rant about what happened to the Celtics

Photo (cc) 2010 by Christine

You don’t care what I think about the Celtics’ just-concluded season, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

The team made a great comeback from 0-3. Derrick White made a play for the ages to pull out Game 6. In the end, though, they lost to a less talented but tougher and better coached team — although I have to say that the Heat certainly didn’t look less talented in this series.

What’s next? Joe Mazzulla has to go. Beyond that, this is still a very good team. I think Al Horford can continue to be valuable (assuming he doesn’t retire) as long as they cut down on his minutes. I’d love to see Rob Williams play more, but I’m afraid that his knee won’t allow for that. I still love Marcus Smart.

The big question is whether to break up the two J’s. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were both awful with everything on the line, and I don’t want to hear any injury excuses about Tatum. They might have to deal Brown because of contract considerations, and if they do, I hope they replace him with a veteran who Tatum respects, even fears. He needs guidance. That said, he took over during the final five quarters against Philadelphia, and that was just as much of a pressure situation as Monday night was.

Many, many people have said the Celtics should have stopped shooting threes since they weren’t falling. Unfortunately, the modern NBA is built around the three, and the Heat were scoring from outside at will. You score two, they score three, and you’re another point behind. I’d love to see the NBA get rid of the three and return to ’80s-style inside basketball. But we know that isn’t going to happen.

And let’s not hear anything about lack of effort. They were playing absolutely as hard as they could until maybe the final eight minutes, by which time the writing was on the wall. They just played a terrible game.

Congratulations to the Celtics for a thrilling ride. If they stay healthy, they’ll be back.

Jayson Tatum. Photo (cc) 2018 by Erik Drost.

I am no basketball analyst. But I watched almost every minute of the Celtics’ playoff run, which came to an end last night with a thorough thrashing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. And I just want to say this: Don’t tell me about blown opportunities, choking or any of those other tired sports clichés. They lost to a much better team. Even those maddening turnovers were a symptom, not a cause.

Longtime Celtics fans will hark back to the Larry Bird era or, more recently, the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce-Ray Allen trio. There are some key differences. Bird was one of those rare talents who arrived fully formed. Garnett, Pierce and Allen were veterans brought together for what turned out to be one championship run.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, by contrast, still have some learning to do. They’ve learned a lot the past few weeks, and we can all hope they’ll be better players as a result.

These opportunities don’t come along very often, and you hate to see them miss what looked like a real chance at a championship. Among other things, the Celtics were about as healthy as you can expect an NBA team to be in June. Robert Williams was hobbled, but he’s their fourth-best player. You can say they’ll be back next year, but so much of that depends on avoiding injuries.

But congratulations to the Celtics for a great ride. And congratulations to the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry, the best pure shooter the NBA has ever seen.

Sports and justice

The question is what else will and should the players do beyond boycotting games? The NBA has some real leaders, from LeBron James to Jaylen Brown. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

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