The Celtics can’t stay in rhythm, Jrue Holiday’s star keeps getting brighter, Evan Turner is worth keeping around, and the Eastern Conference is uhh, well, brutal. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
76ers force Game 7
I’ve given up trying to make sense of this series. Though, this is what I think I know or really, what I know I think.
First, the Boston Celtics are undoubtedly the most inconsistent veteran team with championship pedigree in the history of the NBA. If they didn’t take every other night off over the past 10 days, they’d be relaxing at home right now instead of preparing for a brutal Game 7 against a younger, grittier, and now, exceedingly confident team. Remember, this is the same 76er team that struggled to close out the Derrick Rose-less and Joakim Noah-less Chicago Bulls. I know the Celtics are walking wounded but come on this is getting ridiculous.
Second, the playoffs have provided the 76ers with plenty of things to build on; experience, exposure, confidence, etc… but nothing has been bigger for the franchise than the confirmation of Jrue Holiday. Many have speculated that Holiday has star potential. The playoffs have finally confirmed those assessments. Although he’s had his struggles at times, Holiday has been great. He scores, creates, rebounds, attacks the rim; when he’s on, he gives the 76ers a great chance to win. Watching him continually challenge the vaunted Kevin Garnett in crunch time during Game 6 gave me hope for the future. Holiday is a building block for sure, and maybe even a cornerstone.
Third, giving up on Evan Turner in the offseason would be a mistake. Turner will never be James Harden but he has that Swiss Army knife potential – that player that every team wants because you can plug him in at three or four positions and know you won’t suffer for it. If Turner can develop a decent shot in the next year or two, he may even have a few All-Star seasons in him. I know, I know, that seems outlandish, but Turner already does all that Andre Iquodala does. In fact, I think his ceiling is higher than Iquodala’s. Watch Turner on the floor, he’s always in tune with the game. He never looks lost and most importantly, never overwhelmed. That can’t be understated. Turner’s struggled from the field in the playoffs and he may have been a little too aggressive in attacking the rim at times in Game 6, but you want to see that out of your young talent. You can always teach a player how to play smarter and make better decisions. You can’t teach confidence and fearlessness. You either have it or you don’t. Turner has it. His game isn’t quite there yet but that will come in time. From the shoulders up, though, Turner is the type of player I want to surround a guy like Jrue Holiday with.
Fourth and finally, the Eastern Conference is still the JV division of the NBA. Outside of Boston’s impressive run in 2008 and Miami’s questionable title in 2006, the West has dominated the NBA Finals. That trend doesn’t look it will change this year. None of the four remaining teams in the East has a reliable offense. The Heat has two superstars and the Celtics can score in bunches when hot, but generally speaking, the East is offensively challenged. The West, on the other hand, will send either the NBA’s best or 2nd best offense to the NBA Finals. This isn’t football. Defense only contributes to championships, it doesn’t win them. You can get all the stops you want but if you can’t put the ball in the hoop you’re not winning. Thus, it really doesn’t matter who advances to the Eastern Conference Finals, they’re only playing for 2nd place.