1. They Ain't Broken and Don't Know It
Yet- The Celtics are in the East Champ Game again this year. Which is just incredible when you think that their two best players are gone for the Season. Which also brings up some other issues. But most importantly the Celtics have a chance to beat the Cavs this year, without Kyrie and Hayward. Which sounds like Mission Impossible story on the Parquet.
They reshaped their entire roster to get those two Superstars to lead their young Lottery Picks. "A lot of people are saying, 'how can they succeed like this without Gordon Hayward?' I've heard that. He's been out since the first quarter of Game 1, so it's like do we even know who they would have [been]? He's not even like been on the team. So we can talk from like potential, but he's been out since the first quarter of Game 1 in Cleveland," LeBron said. "I get it with the Kyrie thing. He was obviously a teammate of mine for three years, and I know what he's capable of doing. But they got guys that's damn good no matter if they are young or not, they know how to play basketball and their coach has put them in position to succeed." Their plan was destroyed in the 1st game of the season, and then Kyrie went down.
So they had some time to adjust. This year the Cavs are not going to devastate the Celts in the first few games. Last year the series was over before it started. The Celtics exploded into Game One with a dream of usurping the King of the East. Only we didn't know that Isaiah had a bum hip that would end his career as a transcendent player. Last year the Celt's entire offense evolved, revolved, and went through Isaiah. When he was a crippled in Game One, and out in Game Two they couldn't recover.
They were outscored by 57 points in the first two games of the East Finals, with Isaiah being a negative instead of the MVP of the East. The entire offense was built around his unique frenetic skills. With him at less than half speed the Celts offense was discombobulated, and the Cavs pounced like hungry hyenas on a wounded gazelle. Before they knew Isaiah was done, they were down 2-zip in the series.
So Isaiah went from East MVP to a terrible negative on the court playing on his bum hip. It was courageous, but it was also folly that the Celts couldn't overcome. It was so bad that just not having him on the court allowed the Celts to somehow win Game Three.
The Celtics are not going to fold in the first two Games, because their leading player is broken and no one seems to know it. "I think they are one of the most well-coached teams in our league. Obviously, you know what I've said about Brad Stevens before and his ability to get the most out of his guys: how great they are out of timeouts, late-clock situations." LeBron said. "No matter who is on the floor or no matter who has played for them, he can put guys in position to succeed and get the most out of whoever has been in their lineup over the past few years. It's not just this year. I think it has been a little bit overblown this year because of the names that has been out. Obviously, with Kyrie and Gordon and the injuries with those two big guys, but he has gotten the most out of everybody he has ever put in his position since he's gotten to Boston." They have made it to the East Finals without Isaiah, Gordon, and Kyrie, which is utterly amazing when you think about it.
The team is what it is. It will be the same team that would have swept the 76ers, if the NBA didn't put in their Fixer for Game Four in Philly. It won’t suddenly be a completely different team, because their MVP Point guard was suddenly Quasimodo. Now I'm not saying the Celtics are favorites. But they ain't broken and don't know it yet. That changes everything from last years Champ Games.
Kyrie- The Celtics will have to trade Kyrie this off season. The emergence of Rozier has made it a crime against humanity to leave him on the bench. The two cannot consistently play together on the court. They both have to have the ball in their hands to be effective. They are both, pure scoring point guards.
What Rozier did in these playoffs, with two of the Celts top three veteran leaders out is amazing. "But you’re always worried about guys that might have doubts on who they have with them in the foxhole," Ainge said. "But Al’s never expressed any of that to me, nor Kyrie when Gordon went down. I think that’s because of the respect those guys have had for the way our young guys have played from the beginning." Brown and Tatum stepped up early, but I don’t think Rozier has gotten the credit for the star he has developed into since Kyrie went down.
He ran the offense into the playoffs, and continued through the Bucks and Sixers. "I kind of watched, so when Avery got hurt I knew what was going to happen. It’s not as if I didn’t play the first couple of games and then the coaches just threw me out there," Rozier said about last season. "I had a chance to prepare and know I was going to play some minutes. Get ready and step up to the plate. Kind of worked out good. It makes you feel more comfortable the way things are here. If you do make a mistake, you know you can always make up for it in the defensive end. Knowing you’re going to make mistakes, if you’re comfortable you’re going to be fine." He certainly stepped up to the plate this year.
Now calm yourselves. I'm not saying Rozier is a better player than Kyrie. I liked Kyrie when he was a Cav, but I didn't know he was going to be that good. He is a true superstar. His ability to drop 30 every night, and be a great clutch scorer makes him a leap and a bound better than I though he was. But Rozier was showing those same traits, before his fling with Embiid in Game Four.
His next test is overcoming that mentally, because Rozier took a step back in Game Five. Though he did seem to get it back late in the 4th when we needed him the most. But he was dropping 30, and being a beast in the clutch before he was bullied by Embiid in Game Four.
If they think he can be the player he was in the first ten games of the Playoffs than they can't trade the kid. The problem is that we don't know if or for how long Kyrie's knee can hold up. If Kyrie's knee can hold up, he is the player Rozier showed he might be in the first ten games of the Playoffs. Can you trade that young guy, for a veteran coming off such an odd knee surgery? "He was a confident kid then when I watched him at Shaker. And he's a confident player now, so I'm not surprised," LeBron said about Rozier. "He's gotten better and better. It was a steal when they drafted him out of Louisville, and he's just showcasing his abilities." Rozier didn't have a turnover in the Playoffs until Game Five against Philly.
He was perfect against the Bucks. "Our last game we had Jaylen, Jayson and Terry as our leading scorers," Trader Danny said about Game Five against the 76ers. "It’s just been fun to see all the development of those guys.
And I think Al’s had an enjoyable time of being the mentor/leader of this group of young guys. I think he’s probably been the one that’s most surprised where we are from when the season started and guys went down with injuries. He probably had the greatest doubts, and wondered what would happen." Terry led them to the near sweep.
I'm not sure how sure the Celtics can be about Kyrie's knee. Plus, Trader Danny could get an elephant and half the clowns in Barnum & Bailey's Circus for Kyrie. I know it is blasphemy to suggest such a thing after the season he had. But didn't we learn something against the Cavs in last year's Playoffs?
You cannot win it all if your point guard has a peg leg. The small guys have to be able to move at frenetic speeds to succeed in the NBA. So Danny better be damn sure Kyrie's knee is sound before he trades Rozier. Because one of them has to go. Their games are too similar.
You can get a king's ransom for Kyrie. And maybe his knee is fine and maybe it isn't. Danny ditched Isaiah right as the extent of his hip was being learned. Hips are the center of the muscular system, and the hardest injury to overcome. Most never really do. They removed all the bionics from Kyrie's knee. I'm not sure that anyone knows for sure what his knee will be
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