WALTHAM — The Celtics may have been the No. 1 seed in the East by way of a 53-win regular season, but absolutely nobody is giving them a shot against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
But that’s business as usual for this club.
“We’ve been counted out since I’ve been here,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, averaging 25.4 points per game this spring (the ninth-most among playoff scorers), said on Tuesday. “It’s nothing new.”
“Did you hear anybody pick us to win last series, either?” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said when asked about the club’s slim chances against the defending champions. “What about the one before that?”
There’s no sense in trying to deny that the Celtics have toppled some obstacles to get to this point. They dropped the opening two games of their first-round series against the Bulls, and looked straight-up terrible along the way. But they rebounded with four straight victories. They then engaged in a home-winning, six-game war with the Wizards, and even though they dropped Game 6 in deflating fashion, the Celtics responded with one of their best team efforts of the entire postseason with Monday’s 115-105 win.
It’s been their best and only response needed to answer the critics that have clearly stayed in their heads throughout this run.
“I think [there’s] enough people out there who were against us in both series,” Crowder, fourth among Celtics with 13.2 points per contest in the playoffs, continued. “I think it was out there that we weren’t supposed to get to where we are right now.”
Hardly removed from their Game 7 victory over the Wizards, and set for the start of the third round against James’ Cavaliers beginning tomorrow night at TD Garden, the Celtics aren’t focused on everything happening outside of their room. This next task — usurping the reigning champs and tilting the balance of power in the East, which has been won by a James-led team for six straight seasons — is too tall for them to be solely focused on what every fan or pundit is saying about them.
“It helps a little bit, but at the same time, we’re so focused on what’s going on in this group of guys we have,” Thomas said of motivation that comes with the doubt thrown their way. “We’re not really focused on the outside noise and what people think we’re going to do. The first couple rounds, they didn’t think we were going to get past that. So we’re not really worried about what others are thinking. We’re just going to take care of business as we go.”
But while they say that, don’t kid yourself: Manufacturing disrespect into on-court production is what this team has done all year. And they’ll need it to be the biggest chip on their shoulder to date if they’re going to beat the Cavaliers for the East’s crown.
“Everybody in our locker room welcomes [motivation] with open arms,” Crowder said. “It’s part of what we’re about.”
Full article @ Celtics know, but don’t care that they’re the underdog against juggernaut Cavs
Source: GreenStreet Blog