After demolishing Cleveland in Game 1, bet against depleted yet scrappy Boston at your own risk at this rate.

By Jon Tayler
May 14, 2018

Stop sleeping on the Celtics

When did you write off the Celtics for this postseason? Was it when Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the playoffs with a knee injury back in April? Was it way back in October, when Gordon Hayward didn't even make it through the first quarter of his first game before suffering a season-ending ankle injury? Was it sometime in a second half where virtually every Boston player with a pulse got hurt and the team had to play guys like Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader and Jabari Bird simply to get through games? Or did you look at the Celtics’ path—a first-round matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, a second-round date with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the high-flying Sixers, and the prospect of facing either the No. 1 seed in the Raptors or the unstoppable force that is LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals—and assume that it was a fun year, but now it’s time to think about 2019?

Well, here we are, with the Celtics refusing to die. They outlasted the Greek Freak. They completely stifled Simmons and Embiid and stymied the Process. And now, after blowing out LeBron and the Cavaliers in Game 1, 108–83, this piecemeal Boston squad is just three wins away from the Finals. A ragged squad featuring Terry Rozier’s three-bombing specialties and rookie sensation Jayson Tatum and Al Horford’s sensible fundamentals lit Cleveland up for its eighth straight home win of these playoffs. And in the process, they held the previously on-fire James to one of his worst postseason performances ever: 15 points, 5-of-16 shooting (including 0-of-5 from three) and seven turnovers. (Shouts to Marcus Morris on that one, by the way.)

LeBron won’t keep struggling like that, and the Cavaliers probably won’t shoot 4-of-26 from three again or only 36% from the floor. But at the same time, there’s no more doubting Brad Stevens’s bunch. Somehow, someway, the Celtics are legit. Watch them finish off the Cavs and then find a way to shut down Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors. At this rate, why bet against them?

Speaking of unexpected

After routing the Lightning, 6–2, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals—yes, the franchise for whom this round was basically poison—are two wins away from playing for the Stanley Cup. Up is down, black is white, and a D.C. team is succeeding in the playoffs. What a bizarro universe we now live in.

LeBron’s memory is scary

Meanwhile, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

Happy Mother’s Day from the Phillie Phanatic

And also from Hanley Ramirez

He almost hit the truck!

The best part of Bryce Harper’s monstrous home run against Arizona on Sunday, aside from him almost leaving a dent in that Dodge pickup truck in the stands, is Diamondbacks rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. not taking a single step after it was hit. That thing was absolutely destroyed.

Odds and Ends

Here’s the story of a bear living its best life by breaking into a car and eating two dozen cupcakes ... Speaking of animals thinking they’re people, a wild raccoon got stuck in the visiting bullpen at Dodger Stadium on Sunday ... The best baseball player in the world? Minnesota’s Logan Morrison says it’s Shohei Ohtani ... The baseball team at Saint Peter’s University of Jersey City, N.J., ended a 77-game losing streak by beating Iona in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday (and then promptly started a new one by losing the second game) ... An MMA fighter booed his own fight on Saturday night while he was still wrestling.

Hotel relay challenge!

Prop-based wrestling is the best wrestling

I always knew something was off about that Huckle Cat

Switch-hitting is confusing sometimes

So is catching

It’s Monday, my people

Face the week with confidence.

Email jon.tayler@simail.com with any feedback or ping me on Twitter. Click here for previous editions of Hot Clicks. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)