The Celtics have used the Philadelphia 76ers to make statements to the league over the past year.
In the playoffs last season, the statement was “don’t write us of yet.”
On Christmas Day three months ago it was, “Kyrie owns the big stage.”
Last month following home losses to the Lakers and Clippers, the Celtics went into Philly without Kyrie and won yet again. That statement was two-fold:
1. We own that ass.
2. Again, don’t write us off yet.
Well, here we are again. The Celtics play the Sixers in Philly tonight (7 p.m., NBC Sports Boston) and again need to make a statement.
The C’s have been blah over the past 10 days and are 2-2 in their past four games after going on a three-game win streak out West. Several players on the team and the greeniest of Green-Teamers in this city acted as though the Celtics were back on track to win the title following the 3-1 West Coast swing – but they really haven’t done much since then to prove that they figured it all out.
Kyrie is again the focus heading into the freshest “biggest game of the season” tonight. Through his play of late, Kyrie is playing the game as if he’s saying, “Don’t blame me if we lose, I’m doing my part.” There will be two or three possessions during the game where the Celtics are moving the ball like a well-oiled machine but the shots simply don’t drop. That’s when Kyrie will go into “rescue mode” and go iso.
Regarding those Kyrie iso plays – to quote the great Brian Fantana, “It works 60 percent of the time, every time.” In other words, when it works it looks great. But there are far too many times where it seems like a desperate measure.
This way of playing is good enough to keep these games against top teams like the Denver Nuggets close. But it’s not good enough for them to get over the hump and win against top tier competition consistently.
The Celtics can double-down on their ownership of the Sixers tonight, and they can once again tell the league not to write them off yet with a win. But still, there is something missing.