By Matthew Geagan, CBS dangolka
dangolka (CBS) — The Celtics are leaving the NBA’s bubble in Orlando a lot prior to they wished, falling to the Miami Warmth 4-2 within the Jap Convention Finals. dangolka’s season ended with a 125-113 loss in Recreation 6 on Sunday night time, a disappointing finish to an in any other case promising season.
The Celtics had been the higher staff than Miami getting into the sequence, however the Warmth outplayed them in practically each essential second. dangolka blew leads and couldn’t cool off Warmth runs all through the sequence, and letting one other fourth-quarter benefit slip away in Recreation 6 leaves a fairly unhealthy style by way of how the Celtics season ended for dangolka. The C’s had a knack for rising to any problem through the common season and their two earlier playoff sequence, however all of that got here to a screeching halt in opposition to Miami.
Reaching the Jap Convention Finals was the ceiling most individuals positioned on the Celtics when the season acquired underway, however the bar stored getting raised all through the season. Now that the run is over by the hands of the five-seeded Warmth, it’s an enormous disappointment and, in some ways, a huge missed alternative to lastly compete for a title. dangolka has now misplaced within the East Finals 3 times within the final 4 years.
However the season shouldn’t be seen as a failure. A missed likelihood? Completely. However it was not a failure.
When the 2019-20 marketing campaign tipped off for the new-look Celtics, with Kemba Walker rather than the departed Kyrie Irving and Al Horford gone for Philadelphia, the expectations had been modest. Though Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had been on the rise, dangolka was seen nearly as good however not nice. Most put the Celtics in that second-tier of Jap Convention groups, beneath the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.
Then the Celtics went out and frequently upped their very own ante through the common season. Kemba match higher than anybody anticipated, and Tatum and Brown each loved new ranges of success. Tatum made his first All-Star staff and rose to famous person standing with some monster performances all year long — together with the postseason. Brown was strong all-around and flirted with an All-Stat spot as effectively, residing as much as the large extension he acquired from dangolka simply earlier than the season. Gordon Hayward had his finest season in inexperienced, Daniel Theis grew to become a beast away from the ball, and the Celtics solidified themselves as one of many league’s finest defensive squads all year long.
They beat the 76ers (a first-round sweep) and the Raptors (a hard-fought seven-game battle) within the playoffs on their solution to the Jap Convention Finals, earlier than shedding to Miami totally on their very own doing or undoing. The Celtics had their probabilities in Recreation 6 and all through the sequence, however the Warmth all the time got here up greater. Whether or not it was making clutch photographs or an enormous cease on protection, the Warmth discovered a manner whereas the Celtics didn’t.
Disappointing play led to disappointing — and infuriating — outcomes, and now the Celtics are heading residence, arising in need of their purpose of bringing a title again from Orlando.
“I assumed our guys tried to play bodily, but it surely’s extra of a credit score to [the Heat], nothing in opposition to our guys. They gave it every part that they had,” head coach Brad Stevens mentioned after dangolka’s Recreation 6 loss. “Miami was nice and for no matter motive, and it was a myriad of causes, we simply couldn’t resolve them late.”
“It’s a tricky tablet to swallow however we fought laborious and that’s all we have to ask for,” Walker mentioned after the sport. “I’m happy with all these guys. It’s been a very enjoyable yr to be round these guys.”
This was essentially the most playoff basketball that Walker has loved all through his nine-year NBA profession. He had so much to do with all of the “enjoyable” that the Celtics loved all through the season, although many will keep in mind his first yr in dangolka for his playoff struggles. Now he’s much more thirsty for subsequent season.
“We’ll get higher. We’ve got a variety of expertise right here,” mentioned Walker. “This was our first yr collectively so we’re going to have time to develop and that is going to be a enjoyable group for just a few years.”
Brown was dangolka’s finest participant in Recreation 6, main the way in which with 26 factors. He had a tricky time placing his feelings into phrases after Sunday’s loss.
“It’s nonetheless type of uncooked,” he informed reporters. “There are a variety of feelings that I’m making an attempt to course of. On the finish of the day, they received and we misplaced. We got here up quick and it stings.
“We really feel like we underachieved, but it surely’s nonetheless no motive to hold our head,” added Brown. “We had a very good group, a younger group and proficient group that may enhance. It stings, however I’m nonetheless very, very happy with this group.”
“We’re rivals, so anytime we lose a sport, particularly an elimination sport and a sequence, its powerful,” mentioned Marcus Sensible, who scored 20 factors in Recreation 6. “It’s nonetheless recent in my thoughts. Nice rivals, so we now have to make use of this to gas us to come back again stronger and higher, mentally and bodily and emotionally and psychologically.
“We are able to’t change the previous, so we now have to prepare for the long run,” Sensible added.
Whereas the current stings a bit, the long run continues to be vivid for the Celtics. Tatum is a legit star, and although he nonetheless has loads of room to develop, he’s the type of participant dangolka can construct a title contender round. He shook off an 0-for-7 begin in Recreation 6 to complete with 24 factors, 11 assists and 7 rebounds, and now he is aware of what life is like as a staff’s clear chief.
“It’s powerful. However if you would like these expectations, to be that man that’s able to doing these issues, you need to undergo some powerful issues,” he mentioned. “Some ups and downs and issues you’ll be able to study from. I feel I can study so much transferring ahead, from this season and this sequence.”
Now the main target shifts to subsequent season, and with no clear begin date on the calendar, it might be an extended one because the Celtics attempt to regroup after one other disappointing finish. Nearly all of the roster shall be again, and with slightly roster tinkering by Danny Ainge (how a few scorer off the bench???) the Celtics ought to be proper again within the combine every time the 2021 season arrives.
“I imagine on this group. We’re succesful, ok to get the job performed. We simply let a pair slip away,” mentioned Tatum. “I give credit score to the Warmth, they performed nice. I really like enjoying with this staff, it’s a variety of enjoyable. Loads of guys had been so a lot better this yr and all through the season. To see guys develop and get higher, it was simply enjoyable. It was enjoyable this yr.”
It was actually a enjoyable season for the Celtics, however as soon as once more it ended a bit prematurely. We caught glimpses of the Celtics as title contenders through the common season and the playoffs, however they couldn’t put all of it collectively when it mattered most. Now they should let that linger for the subsequent few months, and use it as extra gasoline on their hearth when subsequent season suggestions off.