The Boston Celtics Are Officially at Risk of Becoming the Buffalo Bills

The Celtics are playing in the conference finals for the sixth time in eight years

Boston Celtics fans celebrate during a game against the Cavaliers.
Celtics fans must see Banner 18 or this season is a complete failure.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty

Although the Celtics did not take the floor on Sunday, there was no bigger winner from what transpired on the court in the NBA than Boston’s basketball team after the Pacers beat the Knicks at MSG and the Timberwolves came from behind to knock off the defending champion Nuggets in Denver.

Thanks to those victories, which marks the first time in NBA history that a pair of road teams have won Game 7s on the same day, the Celtics (64-18 in the regular season) only need to win four games against the Pacers (47-35) and then another four against either the T-Wolves (56-26) or Dallas Mavericks (50-32) to bring Boston its 18th championship banner.

Anything short of the Celtics, who are playing in the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth time in eight years, notching those eight victories and winning the NBA title has to be considered a failure. If they don’t, the Celtics certainly belong in the conversation with the Buffalo Bills, who appeared in four Super Bowls from 1991–1994 and lost every time, and the Atlanta Braves, who dominated MLB and went to the playoffs every year from 1991 through 2005 but won just a single World Series, as all-time underachievers.

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Favored to win the title all season and throughout the playoffs, the Celtics have more postseason experience and skill than any of the remaining teams. They also have home-court advantage and a pair of star wing players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who can score and defend against almost any player in the league thanks to their size and athleticism. Tatum, 26, and Brown, 27, are still young, but they’ve already been to the conference finals more times together than the Magic, Raptors, Hawks, Nets, Kings, Clippers and Grizzlies have in their entire franchise histories. They’ve got plenty of time ahead of them — but the time to win it all is now.

“You got Jaylen Brown making $300-plus million, soon to be Jayson Tatum making $300-plus million. It’s a failure,” Warriors forward Draymond Green, who played the Celtics in the NBA Finals two years ago and won, said on his podcast. “You won 60-plus games. You have built your team [to be this good]. You go out and get Jrue Holiday. You go out and get [Kristaps] Porzingis. The season went exactly how they thought and wanted it to go when you made those moves. Because the season went that way, you extended Jrue Holiday. So, guess what? It’s time to win. It’s time now. We don’t care how many conference finals [you’ve made] anymore. A Finals appearance ain’t good enough. You’ve got to go win it all.”

Whoever wins it all — whether it’s Boston, Indiana, Minnesota or Dallas — will represent the sixth new NBA champ in the span of six seasons, which hasn’t happened in the NBA since the 1974-75 through 1979-80 seasons. If that champion isn’t Boston, the Celtics have to be viewed as a team that had a title handed to them on a silver platter and somehow managed to drop the (basket)ball, again — just like the Bills.

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