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So Brass. So Boston.

The Celtics don't cave, they just execute. And now they advance.

May 10, 2018 - 11:06 am

I don’t root. You know that. It’s one of the rules of the show. I am paid not to root. But I’ll be honest with you and admit that I was rooting for Philadelphia to win last night, because I wanted that series to keep going. Philly-Boston wasn’t just a good series, it was a war of petty. And it was awesome.

But before the game tipped off, I had a bad feeling for Philly. Not because the game was in Boston. Not because the Celtics have been much better at home than on the road in the playoffs. And not because I knew the Celtics would come out with an edge and some nastiness. But because of a photo I saw before the game. 

And what was in that photo? Drew Bledsoe and Terry Rozier. Together at last. The culmination of a series worth of memes. First it was Terry Rozier showing up at the Garden in a Bledsoe jersey. Then it was Bledsoe taking to Instagram in a Scary Terry tee. And now they’re together, side by side. Batman and Superman. Name a more iconic duo…I’ll wait. 

That’s when I knew Philly was finished. At that point, if you’d told me the final score was going to be 114-112, I would’ve said that’s a Celtics win and a Celtics series. Because if Drew Bledsoe comes to your house and sits courtside, you’re in trouble. And if he comes to your house, and sits courtside, in an autographed Terry Rozier jersey, it’s over. 

But the Sixers didn’t come out and roll over. They battled. They fought. It was a game with 21 lead changes. And just when it looked like it might be slipping away from Philly in the third quarter, Joel Embiid turned in a monster quarter. 

But then came the fourth quarter. That’s when the pressure ramps up. And when the pressure gets higher, the Celtics get even better.

There was the Al Horford on an alley-oop to get Boston within two

Al Horford. 10 years in. And he’s coming out of the rafters. I didn’t know he had that in him. But he did.

And then Marcus Smart tying it at 109. And then making the play at the other end that led to a Philly turnover that led to this.

But Philadelphia still had a chance. Down two, they got the ball to Embiid in the post, with Aaron Baynes on him. And this happened.

So clutch. So brass. So Boston.

And when asked about it later, Terry Rozier was so Terry Rozier: "Just a championship play, that’s all. Not too much to say about it."

Coldblooded! But he’s right. That was a championship play. And there isn’t much more to say about it. Boston makes those plays. Even guys who you don’t expect to make those plays for Boston make those plays. Sure, you’d expect Kyrie or Gordon or Horford to make them. 

But at the start of the season, would you really have expected Terry Rozier to be making a clutch strip in the final seconds of an elimination game? 

Yeah, Celtics honks would tell you they always believed in Marcus Smart, but did you really believe that he'd be such a force and such a savage who'd be making winning plays at both ends of the floor to close out the Sixers? Even when Smart messed up by missing a foul shot he intended to make and making the foul shot he intended to miss, he still came up with the steal to ice the game. 

It was a 4-1 series that simultaneously felt very close and not at all close, but the difference was Boston executed in pressure situations and Philadelphia did not. Boston doesn’t blink. They don’t cave. They just execute. And now they advance. Even though most left them for dead midseason, they’re right back to where they were a year ago and they they’re there without two huge pieces. And that’s a tribute to the guys who are still there and to Brad Stevens, who might be the best basketball coach on the planet at this point.