After taking some time to reflect on last nights outcome, it struck me that the Celtics have been in this exact situation before. The 2017 semis series vs the Washington Wizards has so far proved to be strikingly similar to the series we are currently in with the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics were in position to move onto the next round in game 6, only for John Wall to hit a buzzer beater to end the game. The Celtics were in position multiple times to put the Raptors away, but were unable to. But the Celts took game 7 vs the Wizards and moved onto the conference championship.
The one main difference here is it feels like there’s a lot more on the line with this game. It seemed pretty cut and dry that the Celtics were a long shot to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference championship that year, even before Isiah Thomas went down for the series. But this time is different. The path to the finals is clearer than its ever been for the Celtics. Whereas it didn’t feel like we could win a championship that season, it’s safe to say a large section of Celtics fans feel it’s a reasonable goal this year. They don’t have to face the Milwaukee Bucks next round if they advance as everyone had predicted, it would be the Miami Heat. You don’t know if this could be the best chance for the Celtics to a win a championship in the near future. The Boston Bruins had a cakewalk to the Stanley Cup last year, as the more difficult opponents were ousted early, only to let it slip away in game 7 vs the St. Louis Blues last year. The Celtics have to play with the mindset tomorrow that it could be their best chance, even if it isn’t true. This is a huge prove it game for a number of players on both sides of the court, and it will most likely look similar to last nights game.
In the end, this series should show one team in green that’s trending upwards, with a young core that can win for a long time, and one team that’s going down, with an aging core revolving around a superstar who isn’t that super. But this series has bucked the trend a number of times so far, so we will see what happens. This chance at a title run should not be squandered by this team, they may regret it for a long time if it is.
(Originally posted on September 10, 2020)