The Celtics played the Cavs tougher than the Hawks

A lot of Celtics fans are looking at this year's first round bout with the Cavs as a positive sign of things to come. Sure, it was a sweep. And yeah, making the playoffs cost us a lottery pick. But what's done is done. The team competed hard on a big stage, Lebron actually went out of his way to praise Brad Stevens, and Kelly Olynyk of all people managed to become the most hated man in Cleveland. It's the little victories that get you through a rebuild.

The Celtics' postseason could have been different had they not landed the worst possible playoff matchup. Following the Atlanta Hawks getting lit on fire by Lebron James and the Cavs in four straight, it's nice to see tweets like this pop up:

Another little victory! The Celtics played the newly minted Eastern Conference Champs tighter than an Atlanta Hawks team that won 60 games, sent four players to the All-Star game, and in January had a staff of writers debate how amazing they were. That's something you can build on.

Photo Credit AP/Tony Dejak

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