The Boston Celtics are undefeated in the playoffs…

I’m so confused.

The game of basketball has its ups and downs. All games have runs on both sides and teams have winning streaks and losing streaks. The nature of playoff basketball is even more exaggerated. Even the best teams have bad nights, everyone involved has ramped up, and even the biggest underdog can steal a win or two from a series. None of this should be surprising.

And yet, I find myself continually flabbergasted by the Boston Celtics.

They have the best defensive personnel in the playoffs and yet there are games where they have as much impact on the shooter as they do on the front row supporters.

They have two All NBA-level players, but there are times when Jaylen handles the ball like a nuclear hot potato and Tatum has switched bodies with a newborn colt.

They have the deepest bench in the playoffs, but there are times when it seems like Mazzulla is clinging to straws.

I’m afraid it might be reductive, but on the surface it looks a lot like focus and effort. Various players have admitted this in interviews. But the motivation is not lacking. This team knows very well how talented their team is. They know very well how difficult it is to win the playoffs and reach the final. They remember all too clearly the frustration of getting so close and failing. All of this should laser-lock them on target and excite them more than Kevin Garnett playing $100,000-per-point shuffleboard.

And yet, they seem to let go and lose focus at the most infuriating moments possible. No disrespect intended for the Hawks, but if the Celtics are locked in any series, it should have been a sweep. In particular, they should have won the match where Dejounte Murray was suspended. Likewise, they should have won Game 1 of this series while MVP Joel Embiid was absent. I don’t buy the excuse that game plans get mixed up when key players are missing. They should be ready for that and if anything, the game plan is simplified.

This team might have a problem with overconfidence. They know how good they can be, so they assume they can get into any game and turn it on. You can put some of that on the coach for not focusing on the right things, but at some point it’s up to the players to keep that focus. The lead usually comes from the top players so you have to look at Tatum and Brown to set the tone. But by nature, they’re on the quiet and reserved side, so we may never see them giving pep talks or chewing out teammates for missing homework. Leadership comes in many forms, however, and it’s probably not fair to judge it too harshly from afar.

So I’m still confused. I don’t know which team is going to show up tonight or for any playoff game. The whole situation is stressful for me as a fan, so I can only imagine what the players and coaches are going through.

The Celtics have all the ingredients to cook. They have the pots, pans, utensils and copies they need. We have seen them produce 5 star Michelin level dishes in the past. We’ve also seen them burn toast and forget key ingredients. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what they have on the menu tonight. Game 2 was a tasty appetizer. I’m ready for more classes like this.

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