Definitely not freaking out about the Boston Celtics dropping Game 2

The Boston Celtics season is on the brink after another unfathomable loss to Miami in Game 2 -- but everything is totally fine here Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics season is on the brink after another unfathomable loss to Miami in Game 2 -- but everything is totally fine here Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Before we go any further, Boston Celtics fans, let’s all just take a deep breath.

Ok now that we’ve collected ourselves, let’s calmly and rationally reckon with the fact that the Celtics just lost both home games and are now down 2-0 to the Miami Heat, putting them in a box so tight that they might literally have to become Hardwood Houdinis to escape it.

What can I say? I’m a company man. *winks at camera*

Anyway, it’s undeniable that this is a confounding, infuriating, and unspeakably dire situation. I understand if you just want to crawl into a corner and cry, and for about 500 words you’re going to think that’s all I want to do too. But stick with me, because I promise you there is light at the end of this tunnel.

In my search for silver linings, I initially came up empty. A loss is bad enough, and unfortunately, Game 2 also did nothing to help solve arguably the biggest crisis currently facing the universe: I still have no explanation for why or how this is happening.

Sure, I could cook up some analytical basketball reasoning for us, telling you how the Boston Celtics turned the ball over, struggled against the Heat’s zone defense, failed to put bodies on Bam Adebayo on the defensive glass, and how Jaylen Brown shot a poor percentage and Caleb Martin shot the lights out. And while that’s maybe the how, we’re still missing the why. Inconceivable!

I’d love to take this one with a level head, but we can’t, because the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals have put me in such a mental headlock that I’m inventing new philosophical frameworks to try to understand it all. My head is completely upside down, so here’s what I’ve got:

I think basketball is all about doing two things in a row. The Miami Heat can do that, and the Boston Celtics cannot.

Here’s the basic gist: Get two stops in a row, you’re locking up. Two buckets in a row is the beginning of a run. If you can win two quarters in a row, you’ll have your opponent in a headlock. Win two halves and you got the game.

In the playoffs, we get a whole new level of stringing two things together. If you win two games in a row in a playoff series—even if you always lose the next game—theoretically, you can never lose. Two steps forward, one step back. So long as you took the two, you’re golden.

So far, the Heat could always get that second step. Two Duncan Robinson threes in a row to assassinate any momentum the Cs thought they had. Two Bam Adebayo offensive rebounds in a row to keep the play alive and demoralize the Celtics. Two forced turnovers in a row to end a comeback chance, and two Butler free throws to put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were completely unable to string anything together. Win the first quarter, lose the second. A fantastic third quarter into a total meltdown in the fourth. A few furious runs forced Erik Spoelstra to take a timeout, and Boston never came out of it with another great five minutes. The polar swings led to too many openings for Miami to pounce, and, simultaneously, too many traumatic flashbacks of the Boston Celtics blowing this exact kind of game.

The inability to string solid play together has defined this season, and may very well end up sinking it. Because now the Heat have won two games in a row, putting the Celtics on the brink of elimination.

If this all reads as a bit sadder than usual, it’s because being down 2-0 demands that I journey to the darkest depths of my soul to ask a question I hoped would never see the light of day: are the Cs going to get swept?

Any team down 2-0, especially with both losses coming at home, has to ask that question, no matter how painful it may be. In order to avoid having to win three or four straight games, the latter of which has never happened, the Celtics are basically staring down two straight-away elimination games. I have a bad feeling about this.

To grasp at some straws of hope in a hay bail of anguish, the Celtics have won their last three actual-elimination games on the road, including two absolute heaters from Jayson Tatum. This team has struggled to simulate desperation when their backs are not literally against the wall, but they better wake up feeling like an endangered species on Sunday, because they are.

Winning four straight games is practically impossible. Winning three is unbelievably difficult. Statistically, the Celtics have a 92 percent chance of losing this series. But since we’re already quoting Mr. Solo, never tell me the odds.

Because all of that has to do with logic and reason, something the Heat have no interest in dealing in. They are chaos incarnate, disregarding the prescribed basketball laws to pull off games that no one saw coming, something that has thus far hypnotized their opponents, turning them into fearful, turnover-happy numskulls in the fourth quarter. But maybe that can be a double-edged sword.

If the Celtics can embrace the chaos, rather than run from it like they have so far, they can level the playing field. In a basketball sense, all this is crazy. But the Heat have made this series about emotional intelligence, not basketball. And on that court, the Celtics have been unable to compete.

Grant Williams was the only Boston Celtics player who met the moment

In Game 2, only one Celtic understood what kind of game they were actually playing: Grant Williams. For a few fleeting moments, I saw in his eyes that someone understood that sleepwalking through this series was not going to fly. He went at Butler directly, even butting heads with him like an alpha-bull goat. When he dunked, he gave that rim one extra pull, just for good measure.

But Grant’s teammates failed him. He lacks the basketball skills to back up his smoke and eventually wound up looking silly next to Butler. But you know who does have the skills to take on Butler and win: Tatum or Brown. Where were they when Butler called Grant too small?

Even though he will be the subject of relentless criticism over the next few days, Grant’s willingness to suit up and battle should be praised. The Boston Celtics have tried the “pure basketball” angle, and they’ve been smoked twice in a row. It’s time this team had each other’s backs because right now they’re getting bullied. Grant should not—and cannot—stand up to this alone, but maybe he can be the spark that lights this candle.

And right now, that flicker of hope is all we’ve got.