Even as the No. 1 seed in the East, the Boston Celtics were not expected to reach the NBA Finals. But they were expected to at least survive the first round.
That appears unlikely. Boston trails Chicago 2-0 in the series, this after losing both games at home: 106-102 in Game 1 and 111-97 in Game 2.
Game 3 is Friday in Chicago at 7 p.m. ET.
“Well, it’s one thing to say they weren’t a No. 1 seed, which I think we all agree on,” Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub host Tony Massarotti said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s another thing to go out and completely cower like they did against the Bulls the other night. That Game 2, to me, should have been a slam dunk. They lost Game 1 at home as a No. 1 seed. Game 2 should have been a slam dunk, and frankly, I thought they rolled over. It was a pretty pathetic performance when you get right down to it.”
Chicago has outscored Boston in six of the last seven quarters of the series, with Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez and others having their way in the paint and on the offensive glass.
“There’s a lot of things (that the Celtics) need – and I think we knew that after the playoffs last year,” Massarotti said. “I think we just expected better against the Bulls in the first round. I thought it was going to be a more difficult series than most, but I also thought the Celtics should win the series – and right now, they look like they’re going to get smoked. They could use an active big man, there’s no question about it. They can use better shooters. Other than Isaiah Thomas, they really don’t have a great player on the team – and I’m not even sure Isaiah qualifies necessarily as great. But they don’t have a guy that can handle playoff basketball, and that includes Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder – even Al Horford has looked tentative and timid. To me, the holes on the roster are abundant and they’re all being exposed.”
The Celtics didn’t make a franchise-altering move at the deadline to acquire Butler or Paul George. In hindsight, perhaps they should have.
“To me, I like George better than Butler, but I also think the Celtics are at a point where they can’t necessarily turn down either,” Massarotti said. “Honestly, I’m eager to see now how it goes over the summer because they obviously have the Brooklyn pick and they have the Brooklyn pick in 2018 as well. It could be the No. 1 pick in the draft, if they win the lottery. Right now they have the best chances of winning the lottery. If they win the lottery, I think that pick becomes infinitely more appealing, and given all the rumors of Jimmy Butler in Chicago, I think there’s a chance they could swing a deal and bring Butler here and also sign Gordon Hayward. I wouldn’t rule that out.
“Now, if you’re asking me is that enough to win a championship in the current NBA landscape, my answer is no,” Massarotti continued. “But they have that pick, they have Isaiah Thomas entering the final year of the contract – it feels like they’re going to have to make a choice here: whether to keep Isaiah and build around him and Horford and whoever else they elect to keep, or they move Isaiah, end up drafting Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz and then going in a more long-term direction. So to me, they’re at a crossroads now. This late spring and summer is when it’s all going to come to a head.”