Shit hit the fan for the Boston Celtics on Saturday when Kyrie Irving went down with a right knee sprain late in the first half that kept him out for the remainder of the game. After amassing a 28-point lead, the superstar-less team was unable to stop the Los Angeles Clippers from storming back in the largest comeback win of the season.
The fact that the Celtics committed one of the biggest choke-jobs of the past two years wasn’t the surprising bit, it was that they did it with a group of players that was supposedly one of the best in the league with one of the best coaches. Remember when these players were able to pull their shit together and make it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year without Irving or Hayward? Sure, it’s probably difficult to make a quick in-game turnaround after a great player gets hurt, but it’s not as if they were going into a difficult situation scoring-wise. Boston ended the first two quarters with its highest-scoring half of the season, and had a 74-53 lead at the break. But rather than keep their composure, the team looked lost without its superstar player on the court and just let the Clippers walk all over them, getting outscored 80-38 in the second half.
Needless to say, the Boston home crowd was quite irritated with the performance. Maybe it was because this was the second big lead their team had blown—the Celtics lost an 18-point lead to the Lakers on Thursday—or maybe it was because it had already been six days since their city last won a title. Whatever the reason, the TD Garden faithful showered their team with boos as the game ended.
But that’s okay, these things happen. As long as this kind of loss doesn’t do anything to affect the psyche of the players or causes any sort of repressed concerns within the locker room to bubble up, then the team should be just fine moving forward.
Nice. Man, could you imagine a GM interested in making moves with this team seeing any value in these players after floundering like this without their superstar beside them?