Down 3-1, the Boston Celtics are looking very much the part of a low postseason seed that had to earn its way into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
That said, despite their middling 2020-21 record, the Cs do own one of the most singular dominant offensive forces in the league in Jayson Tatum. As one of just seven players averaging 30 points per game throughout the first four games of the NBA playoffs, the 23-year-old 2x All-Star can single-handedly will his team to victory.
Let’s not forget that 80 points from Brooklyn’s top two stars (Kevin Durant, James Harden) weren’t enough to beat Boston in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals largely because of Tatum’s 50.
Tatum’s 30ppg number includes a 9-point performance in Game 3 that was cut short after 21 minutes. Based on the rest of the series, his place on the scoring list would likely be higher had he not eaten a shot to the eye from Kevin Durant.
Speaking of shots from Durant, the guy known for creating a burner account to anonymously talk trash actually put his name on what can only be described as a complete demonization of the entire Boston Celtics fanbase:
The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn provided an expanded quote that both provides context for saying “we know how these people are here in Boston…”.
The popular thing to do right now is to hate on both the Celtics and the entire city of Boston, and Kyrie Irving is to blame for that. Instead of acknowledging the fact that there is a small percentage of unruly and hateful fans that don’t deserve the privilege to attend an NBA playoff game, Irving decided to lump an entire city–one with just under 685,000 inhabitants–together, and our knee-jerk, meme-crazed culture went along with it.
That unfortunately led to someone–that any sane Boston Celtics fan would disown–stupidly seeking revenge for another stunt from Irving that showed poor sportsmanship and blatant disrespect to a franchise that did everything possible to help him feel accommodated.
While the series may end the next time these two teams take the court, there could be a hateful and presumptive stench surrounding Beantown that lasts far beyond this series when it is all said and done.
Heading into the matchup, there was legitimate buzz surrounding Irving’s return to Boston in the postseason, and watching Tatum battle the Brooklyn Big 3 could have made for the most compelling postseason underdog since the Irving-less Cs of 2018 that came within minutes of an NBA Finals berth.
Instead, the narrative has turned toxic, and the Boston Celtics have unfairly become the most hated team in the NBA for the actions of a disgraceful few.
If you ask the Houdini, the uncalled for hate the team (and city) is effecting the national media’s (who, of course, always value facts more than narratives) perception of the team.
Despite having three All-Stars the last two years (yes, we know Jaylen Brown is injured and Kemba Walker is ailing), a former Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, and a potential future DPOY candidate in Robert Williams, the Boston Celtics were relegated to being described as “not the stiffest competition” by Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey in his postseason takeaways piece:
"The banged-up Boston Celtics may not be the stiffest competition, but the Brooklyn Nets’ offense has looked every bit as scary as anticipated in the first round."
Even without Brown, the Cs are among the more talented teams in the east. Tatum is better than anyone on Miami, New York, or Atlanta. After what he proved in the NBA Play-in tournament against the Wizards and in Game 3 against the Nets, downplaying the Cs doesn’t sit well around these parts.
Then again, Bailey’s assessment–which has Game 2 and Game 4 duds to back it up–is fairer than Durant and Irving’s claims about the entire Boston Celtics fanbase.