For the first time since 1993, a number one seed is trailing a number eight seed 2-0. The last time this happened it was the Phoenix Suns in 1993. Their outcome from that start happened to be an NBA Finals appearance. Can the Celtics reach the same fate?
Before this series even started, I had a feeling that the Bulls would match up well. You look at the talent of each team, you could argue that the bulls actually have more. But, somehow they are an eight seed, mostly due to their severe level of underachieving. If you ask me what duo you would rather have between Isaiah Thomas/Al Horford and Jimmy Butler/Dwyane Wade, I will take Butler and Wade. You can argue that Butler is the second best shooting guard or because of Wade playing that position this year, a top five small forward. What really sets both duos apart to me is the experience Wade has. He has been there and done that in terms of his playoff history and it is not like he is about to retire. He can still play and so far, his value has been immense to the teams’ success in this series.
Now, the Celtics are no slouch and I am not saying they should be the eighth seed in this scenario. I just think they overachieved just as much as the Bulls underachieved this year. Isaiah Thomas has had an MVP caliber year there is no taking away from that. But to me, there is only so much a 5’9″ point guard can do for a team. He is a fantastic scorer but if he is not going well, where do the celtics go from there? Horford is a solid center but the consistency sometimes is not there. Especially for a player who was their top signing this past off season at $113 million. He scored only seven points in game two and for the Celtics to win games in the playoffs, that just cannot happen. Even Rondo is practically outplaying everyone on the Celtics but Thomas and that says a lot. This also ties back into the idea of them matching up well. There is nothing Rondo would love to do more than to knock the team he spent so many years with out of the playoffs right away.
So what really is the Celtics excuse for poor play? Well, there are many factors. The first thing is the tragedy that happened to Isaiah Thomas. Thomas’ sister, Chyna Thomas, passed away in a car accident early Saturday morning. I think of this as if something like this happened to me. I do not see how I could focus on playing basketball at all when my sister just died. It would be so tough. That is all that would be on my mind and I am sure my game would suffer. Thomas has persevered through this and you look at his stats after two games, they are about where you would expect them to be. Is it still potentially a big distraction affecting Thomas and the team? Most likely yes, and the timing for it just sucks.
Brad Stevens is basically universally known now for being one of the best up and coming coaches in the NBA. The fact that they are a number one seed over the Cavaliers is shocking and may deserve coach of the year honors. But, you look at his playoff record up to this point and it is ugly to say the least. So far he is 2-10 as a coach in the playoffs and it only seems to be trending downward. Is it really Stevens’ fault though? Probably not. This team as a whole is not built for a deep playoff run…yet. I say yet because most likely having a top three pick for the next two years will eventually get them over the hump. Right now it is clear as day that this team does not equal a number one seed. Do not get it twisted, during playoff time of they met LeBron and the Cavaliers, they would maybe get swept. With the distractions, the youth, and inconsistency, they may come back and make it through this round but they almost certainly will not win the next.