Bill Simmons Unloads On Celtics For ‘Embarrassing’ Showing Vs. Heat

'It looked like a team who quit'


May 22, 2023

The Celtics are a dumpster fire.

Barring some sort of miracle comeback, one that has never been seen in NBA history, Boston is set to bow out of the Eastern Conference finals. Even the biggest supporters of the Green can admit this season is trending in the way of abject disaster.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is no different. The longtime media personality has made his love for the Celtics no secret over the years, and he was more than willing to light them up following an embarrassing Game 3 loss to the Heat that has Boston on the brink of elimination.

“It seemed so promising a week ago,” Simmons lamented on his podcast with The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo. “Within a week, this Celtics run is over. There’s probably going to be some major changes to this team, and even more disturbing than anything, Russillo, (is) this was a rollover from really the beginning of the third quarter, but you could even say it was going back to the second quarter. This is a team that looked like it just wanted to get out of there.

“Miami is punking them, talking to them, (Jimmy) Butler is talking (expletive) this whole series — nothing, no response. This was awful.”

Simmons rightly pointed out a handful of baffling decisions by Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla and his staff, wondering how the same mistakes both in the gameplan and in-game execution continuously were made. In the end, Simmons was willing to throw the Q word on the C’s (and he wasn’t alone).

“It looked like a team who quit,” Simmons said. “… To me, that’s a team telling us, this isn’t working. You could say that it’s the coach’s fault, and if you change the coach it’s all fine, but this has now happened two years in a row becuase it kind of happened against the Warriors, too, those last three games. They kind of rolled over. At least they had a little more fight in the Finals, but by Game 6, it was kind of done. They were out of answers. This one, they’re out of answers two games into the series.

” … It was a team that was just, like, throwing (expletive) against the wall. Honestly, I thought it was embarrassing.”

Simmons also won’t be the first or the last to suggest some major changes are not only coming but needed to get the Celtics back on the title track.

“Sometimes, a team is trying to tell you something when they have a game like that,” Simmons added. “I think it goes beyond, ‘Oh, we got our ass kicked.’ You come out of Game 2 where (Butler) is just asserting his manhood on them in all these different ways, and you think, how are they going to respond? And the response is to roll over.

“It kind of makes me wonder: Has this group run its course? … the nucleus, is this kind of as far as it goes with this?”

He later added: “This was a front-runner team the whole time. It really was. They were great when they were up 10 (but) in these close games, over and over again, they got outwitted and outexecuted. Just big-picture, it’s tough to imagine a) the coach coming back and b) the nucleus coming back.”

Assuming this death march reaches its increasingly obvious destination, the Celtics are going to be in a very strange spot this summer. They have the ability to keep Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown together for quite some time, but it will be very expensive. There’s also a decision to be made about the head coach, as Mazzulla looks (and sounds) like someone who has completely lost the team. He was put in an unenviable position this season, but Boston giving him a midyear extension certainly complicates matters further.

The only real certainty, as Simmons acknowledged, is this team can’t come back in the same form next season or else it’s likely they will suffer a similar fate.

Thumbnail photo via Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports Images
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