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.