Some thoughts on Game 1 of Celtics-Bulls, and life beyond basketball

It's an especially awkward time to be a Boston Celtics fan.

On one hand, it's something of an insult to be thinking about basketball problems given the recent events with Isaiah Thomas' sister. Seriously. After feeling somewhat embarrassed by some of the fanbase response to a birth in the family of a player, I have to say the response to a death in the family of a player has gone a long way to restoring my faith in the humanity of this team's fans, who rightly rallied around Thomas, supporting him no matter if he decided to play or not.

Ultimately he did, but he still might sit a game or three, and I am just going to get out ahead of everything and say you had damn well better hold steady with that support should he decide he needs time to grieve. That out of the way, it seems a bit ridiculous to be pining for better play out of a handful of veterans and a boatload of rookie-scale guys in year four of a rebuild, with the one seed AND the best odds at a top pick in the NBA Draft. I won't go so far and say a first-round exit won't be a disappointment - in fact, it'll be a massive one - but in light of current circumstances, it'll be an understandable one, if a bitter pill to swallow.

On the other hand, as ridiculous as criticism may be in light of all this, I still have some to give. Dedication to defense has largely been absent, in the regular season, and the latter three quarters last night. When your shot isn't falling, you have to maximize possessions, and find ways to move the ball until it gets to a high-percentage shot, or at least an open look. If we have to have someone throw up trash, at least let it be at the end of the shot clock. If your name is Marcus, you should just pass the ball unless you're in the corner or the restricted area, at least until nobody covers you close anymore, anyway. Every big on the team not named Al should concentrate on boards (arguably him, too), or failing that, at least keeping opposing bigs from getting them by actually boxing out (coughamircoughkellycough). It's not like we're getting offense out of them, so why not pick one thing and do it as well as you can if not well.

I get the league has moved into D'Antoni-ball, more or less, and defense - especially defensive rebounding - matters less now than maybe ever. But if you can't find consistent offense from more than one player, you have to stop the other team from scoring until someone else gets hot. Don't tell me it can't be done, because last night, Thomas was trying harder than maybe anyone else on the team on defense, and while it might not have a visible impact overall given his size, it OUGHT to have an impact on his teammates, who, to a man, should be pouring in more effort in a playoff game on D than arguably the league's worst defender. And if last night wasn't enough to motivate you, I don't think we've got a snowflakes chance in hell.

For the record, I don't believe that's true for a second - I just think the team has become too dependent on a player who isn't going to be himself for some time now.

So forgive me for being critical, I'm just pissed off right now. Supporting your star player in his time of greatest need is a hell of a lot more complicated than offering up some "thoughts and prayers", at least on the court. Playing last night was almost certainly the hardest thing that man has ever done, and he deserves every ounce of effort, every second of vigilance and concentration, every bit of energy and resolve you can muster. If you truly support Isaiah, dig deeper - because he might not be with us on Tuesday.

And we expect you to win, no matter what he needs to do.


For more stories about the Bulls on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.

Photo via
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn