If Charles Barkley actually cared about what anyone said, he’d probably sit out the next few conversations about the Boston Celtics.
The Basketball Hall of Famer has been wrong at just about every turn with his Celtics analysis on TNT’s studio shows, and the evidence is mounting that he either has no idea what he’s talking about as it pertains to the Green or he simply doesn’t like the C’s.
Either is believable at this point.
Barkley has been banging his drum about Boston all season long, dating to opening night. Moments after Gordon Hayward went down with a season-ending ankle injury, Barkley declared the Celtics dead.
“The thing that really sucks is their season’s over. Like, we knew going into the season it was the Cavaliers, the Celtics, the Wizards and Toronto,” Barkley said on TNT that night.
“Now the Celtics, it’s going to be very difficult for them to be in the top four or five, to be honest with you.”
The Celtics’ season, of course, was far from over. It’s still going, in fact, after Boston sent Barkley’s former team — the Philadelphia 76ers — packing Wednesday night. (We’ll get to that in a bit.)
Barkley was right for two games. Boston lost its first two contests of the season before rifling off 13 straight wins to set up a must-see showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 16. Still, Barkley wasn’t impressed with the Celtics’ competition and didn’t even consider them beating the Warriors.
“If you actually look at the Boston Celtics’ actual schedule, they’ve played a bunch of homecoming games,” Barkley stated. “They haven’t beaten the elite teams … their schedule has been very easy for them so far. They’re not going to beat the Golden State Warriors tonight, and they’re not going to hold the Golden State Warriors to 94 points, I promise you that.”
The Celtics trailed by five at halftime, which allowed Barkley to pile on even more during the halftime show.
“Ernie, how in the world has this team won 13 straight games?” he wondered. “I’m sitting here watching and I’ve probably watched them five times, they wouldn’t be favored in the Eastern Conference — I’m not even talking about Cleveland. I’m not sure they can beat Toronto or Washington. I’m just saying, I don’t know how they’re winning these games.”
The Celtics didn’t hold the Warriors to 94 points; the Celtics held the Warriors to 88 points and won the game.
Barkley’s point seemed to finally be proved Dec. 28. The Houston Rockets came into Boston and dominated the Celtics early, taking a 24-point lead at halftime.
“This game is O-V-E-R,” Barkley said at the half.
And then this happened.
Barkley really started to double down when the playoffs arrived, and quite honestly, it’s hard to blame him. After all, a knee injury shut down Boston’s best player, Kyrie Irving, before the postseason even began.
A first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks gave Barkley his latest chance to go against the Green.
“The Milwaukee Bucks are going to beat the Boston Celtics,” he said before Game 1. ” … If Boston wins this series, to me, it will be an upset. Everybody’s picking Milwaukee — or should be picking Milwaukee — because of Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and (Eric) Bledsoe and those guys. I just think Milwaukee, because of the injuries, number one, Boston is a better team but not because of the injuries. Milwaukee is going to win this series.”
It took seven games, but the Celtics ultimately got it done.
Next up was the 76ers, and it was obvious which way Barkley would lean.
“They should win this series, to be honest with you,” Barkley said on WPEN ahead of the series before being asked if “Sixers in five” was a good call. “Uh, I like that. I picked them already, so it’s too late, but if they don’t win this series, I’ll be very disappointed because the way they’re playing right now is terrific. I’ll tell you what: It’s not out of the question the Sixers get into the (NBA) Finals. It’s not out of the question. … I’m gonna pick Toronto in the other series already. I think it’s going to come down to Toronto and Philly in the Eastern Conference finals.”
Even after the Celtics built a 3-1 series lead, Barkley stuck to his guns, calling Wednesday’s Game 5 in Boston a must-win for the Celtics. If the C’s didn’t put away the Sixers then, Philly would be primed for a comeback in the series.
“This, to me, is a must-win for the Celtics because they’re not going to win Game 6,” he explained on TNT before the game. “And if they get to Game 7, which they would, they would be tighter than a drum. This, tonight, to me is a must-win for the (Celtics).”
Of course, the Celtics won. (So much for that Sixers-Raptors conference finals, too.) So, we’ll never actually know whether he was wrong.
Oh, and there’s good news for C’s fans: Barkley also is picking the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the Eastern Conference finals.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Images