How many times will Celtics fans be fooled this season before convincing themselves they won’t get fooled again?
It is tempting to try to work it out once more this time around. No, really, it is. With wits at an end, and each one-word answer from Kyrie Irving seemingly bringing the conclusion to a brutally disappointing season one day closer, many were bracing for this four-game road trip to sap the final drops of faith remaining in this team from their basketball souls.
But after a cross-country plane ride that apparently included a makeshift mass exorcism of negative emotions, the Celtics arrived in California claiming a clear mind and renewed dedication to a collective goal.
Then they beat the two-time defending champions by 33 points. Then they doused Gordon Hayward’s unwavering coif with cups of Gatorade after the Black-Eyed Mamba went all “Old G” for the second straight night, and hit the game-winning basket with two seconds left in Sacramento.
It’s OK to admit – you were pretty stoked. It’s fine. It was fun. Even Irving had a smile on his face for the first time in a month when he wasn’t talking about “two-max-something-or-other” with Kevin Durant.
But then came the off days and this feeling of déjà vu settles in. We’ve been here before with this team. The overtime victory against the Raptors in November, the Christmas Day thriller against the Sixers, the prime-time, shirt-pointing performance from Irving against Toronto in January – they all convinced you that this time the good vibes were here to stay.
Then a blowout loss to the Bucks requires a 40-minute, post-game team meeting and two days of soul-searching revelations that turned the new Auerbach Center into the library of the Breakfast Club. Then a lost weekend in Florida causes Irving to call ‘Bron. Then a 28-point collapse against the Clippers spurs Marcus Morris to say that it hasn’t been fun here for a long time. Then three quarters of sleepwalking on national TV leads Jaylen Brown to talk about a “toxic” losing locker room.
Sure makes you want to stay up past midnight back-to-back nights to watch a group so enthused about spending each moment they can on and off the court together, doesn’t it?
But you did it, didn’t you? You couldn’t turn it off as the lead grew from 10 to 20 to 30 and nearly 40 points against Golden State. You wanted to give Hayward a pat on that little Gatorade-splashed head of his after watching his painful struggles all season coming back from last year’s catastrophic injury.
You couldn’t help but buy in one more time after the whole team looked on the verge of checking out just days prior.
After spending the first five months of the season clinging to the belief that this team still has a chance to fulfill its NBA Finals potential, two nights of the warm and fuzzies were the rope that lifted you back on the bandwagon.
Which makes perfect sense. Because it’s not just you. It’s all of us. It’s the front office. It’s the players. It’s the coaches. It’s everyone whose biggest frustrations this season have come from the knowledge that the Celtics are capable of so much more than they’ve consistently shown.
Now that they’ve shown it once again in the first two days on the West Coast together – especially the way they’ve shown it – it’s perfectly acceptable to have a little trust that this is the real life, and is not just fantasy.
Maybe only fools rush in so readily after all the letdowns of this season.
But after how the past two games sucked you back in just when you thought you were out, it’s probably already too late to turn away from this team now.
For more Celtics Videos SUBSCRIBE to our CLNS Media YOUTUBE Channel.
Too Busy to watch The Garden Report video segments? Then subscribe to the PODCAST version HERE and listen to all your favorite Celtics’ personalities and analysts on-the-go!
Get the inside scoop on the Celtics every week on CLNS Media’s Celtics Beat Podcast with host Adam Kaufman. Listen and subscribe here .
For all your Celtics content needs throughout the 2018-2019 season follow us on Twitter @CelticsCLNS