Celtics season falls just short of NBA finals birth

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The Boston Celtics lost in game six of the Eastern Conference finals by a score of 125-113, falling just short of an NBA finals appearance against their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The game was constantly back and forth. But in the end when it mattered most, the Miami Heat were the ones who emerged victorious. The story of this series is how the Celtics could not find a way to close out games as they let multiple wins slip through their fingers. In games one and two, the Celtics blew a 14 and 17 point lead in the second halves.

In the final game of the series, the Celtics started off the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 96-90 lead. Then Bam Adebayo happened. South Beach’s big man willed the Heat to a 26-6 run, never looking back as they cruised their way to the finish line. Celtics first-year point guard Kemba Walker said after the game, “Bam is a star man, and he played like it.” 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had high praise for his team after the loss. 

“I really appreciated the way that they competed. I really appreciated the way they blocked stuff out that didn’t matter. I really appreciated the way that they inspired with their voice when they were here and before,” said Stevens. “I appreciated the way that they played and found joy and stayed together.”

As exciting as it was to have basketball back after the season was suspended in March due to COVID-19,  the return from the NBA hiatus also helped to bring light to racial injustices in the United States. 

“It was an honor to be able to play here and shed light on those injustices. I don’t know the answers, I just want to do my part,” Celtics star Jaylen Brown said. “I appreciate everyone who’s out there listening, who heard me, and who agrees and wants to make change.”

Boston had high expectations in the bubble, but they were never supposed to get to this point. After losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency last year, many people wrote them off as a team who wasn’t a real championship contender. 

The development of their two stars Jasyon Tatum and Jaylen Brown along with great play by veterans like Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward showed the league that the Celtics were the real deal. As the bubble went on and the Celtics continued to play better, it felt like maybe they did have the talent after all to win an NBA championship. But once again falling short of reaching the finals, the Celtics are in a position where they have to reevaluate.

No one knows exactly when next season will start, but it’s clear the Celtics have to make some changes before it does. The bench play from the Celtics was extremely poor, as they only had three or four bench players who were capable of contributing success to the team. 

If they want to complete their goal of adding to their league-high 17 NBA championships, they are going to need to make some off-season moves. This team will be in contention for years to come, with 22-year-old Jayson Tatum and 23-year-old Jaylen Brown on board, but it will be interesting to see what the team does to compliment them and get back to their winning ways.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NFrieburger.