Celtics have troubling recent history of not taking out opponents when they are down

Between the end of the Larry Bird Celtics years and the KG era, the Celtics were not a perennial playoff team. They had one fun run to the Eastern Conference Finals, but besides that they either didn't make the playoffs or got bounced out in one of the first two rounds.

Things took a 180 degree turn after the Kevin Garnett trade and the Celtics won a championship in KG's first season. Unfortunately following KG's injury in 2009, Garnett's days of being an MVP contender were over. Since that time the Celtics have had a troubling playoff history of not taking out opponents when they are down. Or as Tommy Heinsohn would have said, "Step on their throats!"

The Celtics have done the exact opposite. They have consistently let their foes back in series when they should have been finsihing them off. Here are some examples:

  • (2023) The most recent just happened. The Celtics hosted the 76ers in Game 1 with Philly down their MVP center. Celtics lost and now have to win 4 of the next 6 and if they don't Game 1 will haunt them. This of course follows the Celtics being up 3-1 versus the Atlanta Hawks, and then losing Game 5 back in Boston despite Dejounte Murray being suspended. Luckily Boston recovered in Game 6. 
  • (2022) Celtics up 2-1 vs Warriors and all the pundits have the Celtics winning Game 4 in Boston to take a commanding 3-1 lead, but they lose Game 4 and the series momentum. They give Steph Curry and the Warriors new life and that's a wrap on the Celtics closest title chance since 2010.
  • (2019) Celtics blowout Bucks in Game 1 in Milwaukee and everyone has the Celtics winning the series, but they themselves get blown out in Game 2 and lose four in a row (2018) Celtics lead Cavs 3-2 in ECF, but lose last two games.
  • (2012) Celtics up 3-2 vs Heat in ECF but lose Game 6 at home and then Game 7 on the road 
  • (2010) Celtics up 3-2 in NBA Finals but lose last two games (2009) Celtics lead Magic 3-2 but lose final two games.

You can flip things around and say the Celtics have won some big games when they weren't favored to, but at the end of the day the Celtics failure to win a title in the past 15 years is because they haven't seized the opportunity to go for kill shots. They should have beaten the Lakers in 6 in 2010. They should have beaten the Heat in 6 in 2012. They should have won Game 4 in the Finals last year and won that title.

Boston very well may win tonight and even this series against the 76ers. But they've been playing with this don't bring it every night fire for too many years now. This in on you Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to get the job done. We blame other teams' stars when they fail in the playoffs, so heavy are the heads that wear the crowns. Jayson and Jaylen, you two are the All-NBA players. You need to not lose games you should be winning. And Marcus Smart, you need to give as much effort on defense as you did when you were campaigning for a Defensive Player of the Year award last season.