Some Within Celtics Organization Wanted to Dodge Nets in First Round: Report

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

Getty Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics.

It’s official: the Boston Celtics will be taking on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Brooklyn beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, to earn the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and in turn, a date with the Celtics. This will be the second year in a row that the two teams have met in Round 1 of the playoffs.

A lot has changed in just a year’s time, though. For the Nets, James Harden is gone and Joe Harris is injured. In their place, the Nets have Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and, if he can get healthy, Ben Simmons. The changes, along with a multitude of injuries, saw Brooklyn limp through the regular season.

Meanwhile, Boston’s roster looks completely different. The Celtics started six different players in their series against the Nets last year, and four of those players are no longer on the team. Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford, Evan Fournier, and Tristan Thompson have all departed. Jaylen Brown was injured for that series, too. Now, the Celtics have been one of the best teams in basketball since the new year, a feat that includes them sporting the best defense in the NBA.

All that being said, according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, some people within the Celtics organization aren’t happy with their first-round matchup In fact, some wanted to intentionally lose the last game of the season in favor of a series against the Chicago Bulls.

Smith Reveals Celtics’ Split Decision

On an April 12 edition of ESPN’s First Take, Smith and his co-hosts were discussing a potential first-round matchup between the Nets and Celtics. During that conversation, he revealed an intriguing tidbit of information about the Celtics:

I happen to know on good authority, don’t worry about how I know, you have some people within the Boston Celtics organization that, they don’t like the fact that they’re gonna end up playing the Brooklyn Nets. They wish they would’ve lost so they woulda had somebody else.

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Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Celtics could have finished anywhere from second to fourth in the East, depending on the day’s results. With the Milwaukee Bucks losing to the Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers beating the Detroit Pistons, a win secured Boston the two-seed, but a loss would have sent them down to fourth. Most other sets of results would have seen them finish in third.

Smith stated that some people on the Celtics side of things wanted Boston to intentionally lose in order to avoid the Nets. This was a common narrative heading into Boston’s tilt against the Grizzlies, but statements like this were never made by anyone on the team. In fact, everyone from the players to the coaches said that they welcome all challengers.

Celtics Mentality Heading Into Playoffs

After their win over Memphis, there was one common question throughout all the postgame interviews: who do you want to face in Round 1? Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston asked Marcus Smart this question, and he said that they don’t have a preference. He said that they will “have to play somebody sooner or later, so we might as well get ready and get it out of the way.”

Payton Pritchard was asked a similar question, and he simply stated that the Celtics are “not trying to dodge anybody.” He emphasized that Boston is ready to take on any and all challengers heading into the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

A video also surfaced of Brown talking to the team in the locker room after the game. Brown could be heard saying, “no matter who we match up with, I’ll take us versus anybody. Let’s go.” In addition, Ime Udoka has consistently reiterated Boston’s plan to focus on themselves as the postseason approaches.

Based on these responses, it doesn’t seem like the Celtics are scared of anybody. Smith’s reporting may be true, but even if it is, Boston sure is doing a great job of hiding it.

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