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Boston Celtics evaluation: For Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier & Celtics youth, playoffs ‘will form their careers’

BOSTON -- The expectations are coming for the Boston Celtics. In some unspecified time in the future, this precocious staff will probably b...


BOSTON — The expectations are coming for the Boston Celtics.

In some unspecified time in the future, this precocious staff will probably be anticipated to win. In some unspecified time in the future, the Celtics could have greater than 4 years of expertise between three of their starters, and they are going to be anticipated to complete a first-round sequence in opposition to the No. 7 seed earlier than the seventh sport.

However for now, on this Egyptian-plagued season, the Celtics get one thing of a go. You’ll be able to’t very effectively ask a staff nonetheless in its NBA infancy to out of the blue be a full-blown NBA grownup, doing adult-but-mundane issues like paying the heating invoice or profitable a first-round sequence during which you’re closely favored by seeding or getting your taxes in by April 15. Actual duties are rather a lot to placed on a child.

Besides the Celtics obtained their taxes in and received their first-round sequence, and in case you ask them about going through stress regardless of their youth, they do not acknowledge it.

“The one time anyone has introduced it up is once they talked to the media,” Brad Stevens stated earlier than Recreation 7. “So we’re very centered on what we now have to do to do our job effectively on either side of the ball.”

Sure, Brad, as a result of the media is to be blamed for gawking at this squad. Semi Ojeleye simply guarded one of many 5 finest gamers within the NBA successfully. Terry Rozier went from back-up level guard to starter, and he put collectively a satisfactory imitation of Kyrie Irving. Jaylen Brown led a No. 2 seed in postseason scoring as a second-year participant. Rookie Jayson Tatum regarded round at a roster bereft of its two stars (and in addition Brown within the second half of Recreation 7) and steadily grew to become all the things the Celtics want.

Stevens has taken to answering questions on Tatum by saying one thing like “he is actually good” in a what-else-do-you-want-me-to-say sort of means. In Stevens’ protection, he has been requested if Tatum has shocked him this yr a minimum of 10 instances at this level. However within the media’s protection, we do not completely know what we’re seeing, and we might use some path from a a lot smarter man (like Stevens!).

This is what we all know: The Celtics’ younger gamers are excellent now. They’re able to profitable video games within the common season — a complete lot of video games, actually — and after Saturday, we all know they’re able to going through must-win playoff video games as effectively.

Issues loom on the horizon. Brown’s standing for Recreation 1 in opposition to Philadelphia on Monday is unsure. Stevens allowed for the likelihood that he could possibly be out in his post-game press convention, and whereas Brown insisted he expects to play, he additionally insisted on returning to the ground at halftime to attempt to heat up. Watching Brown attempt to hobble-run from sideline to sideline was sufficient to make a wholesome particular person’s hamstring sore.

If Brown sits, the Celtics’ expectations drop even additional, particularly in opposition to an equally precocious Philadelphia 76ers battering ram. The Sixers have regarded like a two-way juggernaut, whereas the Celtics have regarded like well-coached staff that begins 4 gamers on rookie contracts. 

However the Celtics definitely did not appear intimidated after Recreation 7. They both do not know any higher than to concentrate on the second, or they do not care. Both one is a constructive.

“They’re rising up,” Al Horford stated, sounding for all of the world like he was speaking about adolescent offspring. “This expertise is in contrast to another. Being within the playoffs, the kind of stress, the kind of depth. I really feel like it will form their careers within the NBA. They see the extent of dedication and the way in which you must play. It’ll make them higher gamers. It is all for the most effective.”

They’re studying, too. Halfway by means of the second quarter, Rozier began to cross over in opposition to Matthew Dellavedova to go over a display from Horford. As a substitute of constant the transfer, nevertheless, Rozier pulled it again and spun to his left. Dellavedova bumped in Rozier’s wake as he cashed in a one-foot floater.

On the finish of the bench and wearing all black, Irving was chatting with Guerschon Yabusele when Rozier began to make his transfer. Because the third-year guard spun, Irving reached out and grabbed Yabusele’s arm. When Rozier’s floater dropped in — a shot that regarded like one thing Irving would have created — the Celtics’ star rose to his toes and swung his fist in celebration as he and Yabusele pretended to carry one another again.

Irving has made himself accessible to Rozier through the offseason if the younger guard wants instruction. There are few gamers higher geared up for large moments than Irving, whose Three-pointer to beat the Golden State Warriors might have been one of many 10 largest pictures in NBA historical past.

However generally, youth must forge its personal path. In contrast to a staff just like the Raptors, the Celtics do not have an actual sense of the load of the playoffs, they usually do not have any cause to really feel it but. 12 months after yr of playoff appearances stretch earlier than Brown, Tatum and Rozier. They’ll be within the postseason rather a lot. For now, the Celtics are unfastened and younger and having fun with themselves, and in opposition to the Bucks, that was sufficient.

After the sport, the vibe was completely satisfied however subdued — a staff that achieved a aim it anticipated to realize, as a result of why would it not count on anything? The locker room cleared rapidly, till all that was left was Marcus Morris — an eight-year veteran taking part in in simply his second playoffs who definitely does perceive how uncommon a postseason win may be. Morris was requested how he loved his first Recreation 7 expertise, and for a number of seconds, he simply nodded repeatedly, uncharacteristically misplaced for phrases.

“Because it was my first one, it was in all probability the most effective sport I ever performed,” Morris lastly stated.

Subsequent yr, expectations are going to choose this staff. Irving and Gordon Hayward will return, and after the way in which Brown, Tatum and Rozier carried out this season, the Celtics will be thought-about actual contenders with the entire questions and narratives tied to that label.

However the Celtics are having fun with their expectation-free basketball adolescence. On Saturday, they grew up a little bit, however they ensured that this in-between stage can proceed just a bit longer.

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