The Brooklyn Nets enter their first-round playoff matchup against the Boston Celtics as heavy favorites, and understandably so considering they’ll be at full-strength for the series and Boston will be without rising star Jaylen Brown, who underwent season-ending wrist surgery.
However, that didn’t stop Celtics fans from chanting “We want Brooklyn” after the team’s play-in tournament victory over the Wizards, which is pretty laughable when you consider how much Boston regressed this season after they finished third in the East with 48 wins last year.
In yet another poor optic for the Celtics, their fan base isn’t in lockstep with Brad Stevens. The eighth-year head coach has shockingly been gloating about the Nets leading up to the series, seemingly laying the groundwork for Boston’s inevitable defeat.
In a brutally-honest assessment of his team’s chances against the Nets (that surely won’t precipitate controversy in the locker room), Stevens essentially admitted Brooklyn should be the overwhelming favorites to win the championship this year.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens conceding the team’s first-round playoff matchup against the Nets was sad.
In predictable fashion, Stevens received a tongue-lashing from Celtics fans and local media for these comments. Clearly intent on dying on this bizarre hill (on which he clearly stands alone), this criticism didn’t stop the 44-year-old head coach from doubling down on just how big of a mountain Boston has to climb against the Nets.
"“There will be some tip-your-cap moments: Nice shot and go on the other end and score,” Stevens told reporters. “You aren’t going to hold these guys to 90 (points). These guys are a high-octane offense. You have to guard them as hard as you can and go score on the other end.”"
We normally wouldn’t have an issue with an upcoming opponent waxing poetic about the Nets’ historic offense, but Stevens knows we’re talking about the playoffs, right? Couldn’t he have at least gone the hopeless optimistic route and pretended like the Celtics stand a chance?
We’re all for being honest, but laying down before a first-round matchup against a conference rival is the epitome of pathetic.
Maybe show a little bit of pride? The odds are obviously stacked against Boston, but he’s acting like Jayson Tatum didn’t just single-handedly will the team to a victory over the Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook-led Wizards in the play-in tournament.
Tatum could cause all sorts of problems for the Nets’ defense. And Kemba Walker, though he’s largely been a disappointment this season, has been playing better of late. We’re not saying those two players alone will be enough for the Celtics to make a series out of it, but Stevens putting zero faith in his two remaining stars (and entire roster, for that matter) is embarrassing.
Perhaps this isn’t the message Stevens has been relaying to his players. However, it sounds like he’s hyping up the Nets as an excuse for when Boston eventually loses.
While his job isn’t technically on the line, crediting Brooklyn’s superior talent is definitely one way to convince the Celtics’ front office that losing to the prohibitive championship favorite should buy him at least another year on the sidelines.