The Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat and finally get over the hump

After four eastern conference finals appearance in six years, the Boston Celtics complete their revenge tour and finally head to the NBA finals.

It means way more than you’d ever realize. Just five years ago, it looked like the Celtics were close but needed a little more help for superstar Isaiah Thomas and all-star Al Horford. The Celtics had a “war chest” of assets to use and could acquire whatever they saw fit as well as signing head coach Brad Stevens’ long-time favorite forward Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz.


Suddenly, Thomas was gone, shipped off for disgruntled Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving. Hayward, Horford, young guards Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart and the newly-minted third-overall pick Jayson Tatum were the future. The future was malleable, any of the young pieces being moveable if need be. Then, came the disaster.


The infamous Hayward injury. Irving’s knee injury. Falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James’ one-man wrecking crew. The failed chemistry of the following season and an early second-round exit despite one of the most talented teams in Celtics history. Irving’s departure and cemented legacy in Boston villain lore. Then Horford leaves for Philadelphia to look for greener pastures.


No matter, the Celtics will just replace Irving with the Charlotte Hornets’ all-star point guard Kemba Walker. Sadly, it was just his turn to deal with the injuries. Oh, Hayward’s turn again too. Another conference finals appearance, another bitter ending and yet more injuries to stare down the barrel of. This time, Hayward would be the one to leave.


It all culminated the following year. The Celtics limped into the playoffs at an even 36-36 record, before getting trounced by the “superteam” Brooklyn Nets in five games. Walker would only play one home playoff game at TD Garden, and a forgettable one at that. The future looked both bright and bleak for the Boston Celtics. They had two young stars, but could they play winning basketball as the top two guys? The “war chest” of assets was long gone. The coach had changed, Stevens fell upwards and if the Celtics weren’t able to put talent around Tatum and Brown quick, who’s to know how long they stick together?


Fast forward to January 6, 2022 and the Celtics are 18-21. Former failed acquisition Evan Fournier is dropping 41 points on the Celtics in a New York Knicks jersey. Re-acquiring Horford for Walker and a first-round pick seemed fine at the time, but maybe it was a lateral move. Are Brown and Tatum forever going to play this way? Everything looks miserable, and the future looks as dark as ever. Then, the energy shifted.


The Celtics went on the mother of all runs. But it looked like just another year of inevitable injury when center Robert Williams III tore his meniscus right before the playoffs. The Celtics blazed into the playoffs as the second seed, rising all the way from the 11th seed in January, all for nothing. Except, this team is different, and would go on to initiate a revenge tour for the ages, cleansing all the woes of the past.


Overcoming the bitter-ex Irving in the first round as well as locking down all-world talent Kevin Durant. Making it past the heroics of former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the reigning champion Bucks in the second round this time. Showing that Brown and Tatum are advanced enough to beat the bravado of Miami’s Jimmy Butler and further ascend in the NBA’s hierarchy.


They didn’t do it alone though. Horford has wound back the clock and proved he’s still got it, making the finals after 141 playoff games. Williams III and Smart made all-defense teams, with Smart earning defensive player of the year honors along the way. Forward Grant Williams has become an elite role player, while midseason pickup guard Derrick White has been the steadying force the Celtics have needed.


It’s taken two Game 7s. It’s taken multiple injuries to multiple stars. It’s required big games from players that otherwise play small roles. The Celtics never like to do things the easy way, which is what makes this run so special. Years of failure, struggle and playoff torment have built up to this moment against an even bigger challenge in the Golden State Warriors. Regardless of the outcome, this Celtics team deserves to be proud of what they’ve accomplished. But the job isn’t finished yet.

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