Grande: Celtics Have Figured It Out

After a soap-opera regular season, the Boston Celtics are playing their best basketball at the right time

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 29, 2019 - 9:45 am
Gordon Hayward Boston Celtics NBA Playoffs

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After an underachieving, soap-opera season, the Boston Celtics beat the best team in basketball Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in their second-round playoff series. Boston beat the Bucks, 112-90, in Milwaukee, as Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 26 points.

The Celtics are now 5-0 in the playoffs. What changed?

“As Marcus Morris famously said, (the regular season) was no fun,” Celtics radio voice Sean Grande said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “And it wasn’t. Because of the lethal cocktail of ridiculously high, unfair expectations; trying to integrate two of your star players back in the lineup – one of them couldn’t walk the year before; young players who felt they had been hearing all summer how great they are and how they’re going to be in the Finals, them trying to sort of figure that out – the Celtics had a lot of stuff to deal with.”

At the beginning of the season, Grande didn’t think the Celtics were a lock to reach the NBA Finals. But he did think they would win at least 50 games.

They finished 49-33.

“I was cautious about it,” he said. “I didn’t think there was a way the Celtics wouldn’t win 50 games, and yet, they didn’t – and they had a lot of just really bad nights. But when you suffer losses like that, you see all the things that they were doing wrong. Eventually, it got to the point where they realized what they were going to have to do to be successful because all of the different incarnations and lineups weren’t working. That’s No. 1.”

No. 2? The Celtics improved at the trade deadline despite not making any moves.

“There was some heat on Danny Ainge because all of the other contenders made moves and the Celtics didn’t,” Grande said. “But what I said at the time was the Celtics have the opportunity to make the single-biggest move of the trade deadline of anybody in the league, and that’s acquire a healthy Gordon Hayward. And that’s what they did.”

Hayward had 13 points, five assists and four rebounds Sunday.

“Now what you have is old Gordon Hayward – All-Star Gordon Hayward, max-contract Gordon Hayward – and he’s coming off the bench for you,” Grande said, “which means other teams’ benches are going to have a hard time matching up.”

Game 2 is Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Click below to listen to Grande’s interview in its entirety.