The Celtics may have lost the series, but their bright future begins today

Waking up the day after a playoff elimination is never a fun thing.

Like a lot of you, I struggled to stay engaged while the Boston Celtics were down heavy double digits in the second half, taking some solace from NBA Twitter while LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers unleashed a historic beatdown upon us. I couldn't appreciate the significance, as much as the distaste I had for LeBron earlier in his career has faded (though the whining is perhaps too much of an obstacle for me to ever fully appreciate his game, even when it isn't us he's unleashing it on); while I am basketball-agnostic when there's no Celts, ex-Celts, or ex-UConn players involved, this was obviously - no, painfully - not the case last night. I couldn't even fully appreciate the shift in national media, which, for much of this series, was brutal and at times downright asinine in the swipes taken at the Celtics. Last night, they were by and large respectful - occasionally even laudatory - in acknowledging the not-small achievements of this Boston team.

Thinking of all the ways they'd exceeded expectations, however, put a grin on my face in the closing minutes of Game Five.
We checked all the boxes - 48+ win season, getting out of the first round, doing well in the second round, get the top pick, make no stupid moves at the deadline, and give some run to the youth movement. We exceeded those expectations with an All-NBA, All-Star performance from our diminutive dynamo, bolstered by performances from the starter to the deep rotation who will make important personnel decisions looming this summer difficult and painful in the best way possible. We didn't just make a good showing in the second round of the playoffs, we won the round, and were - bar none - the singular team to steal a game from two behemoths most of us knew would be the last teams left standing at season's end.
If you can name a better team than either of those two (and quite possibly that pair as well) that would be better positioned and more alluring of a free agent destination, keep it to yourself - we don't need to help other teams. I kid. But not about the destination-ness of the Celtics. The rebuild is OVER, all caps, all day. A new era of contention is already underway - and is built to last as well. Change is coming, and not all of it will be easy, or comfortable. Beloved faces will be on the move. Long-time teammates may become opponents. Life continues, as does basketball. Enjoy it -

because it's about to get really, really good.

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

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