Windhorst: I couldn’t say now. But this I can: No matter how it may look two weeks in, almost every team faces adversity at some point in a playoff run. How they handle it often will define their season. And having experience in dealing with adversity is so often a difference-maker in who can overcome it.
Snellings: Before the season began, I predicted that the Rockets would defeat the Warriors to represent the West in the Finals, and I’m sticking with that. I think the 76ers are the best team in the East right now, but their inexperience will be their weakness. Despite Cleveland’s current struggles, I’m staying with the Cavaliers.
Forcing Jazz misses and turnovers allowed the Thunder to get out in transition, which, along with Rudy Gobert’s absence, allowed Westbrook to get high-value shots around the rim. I’m fascinated to see whether Oklahoma City can keep it up in Game 6, particularly with Westbrook expending so much energy; he played the entire second half for the first time since Game 7 of the 2016 Western Conference finals, per ESPN Stats & Information research.
No reply was shorter than when Brown was asked about his own numbers that day.
“My teammates found me in open spots. I hit some shots,” said Brown, who soon stood up, adjusted the fanny pack he’s trying to will back into style and headed for the team bus.
The popular narrative as Brown and Tatum assert themselves on the playoff stage is how bright the more distant future is becoming for the Celtics. And it’s absolutely fair to watch what these two are doing for injury-depleted Boston and wonder just how good this team can eventually be when it has a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the court next season.
But that overlooks what makes Brown and Tatum so special to begin with: They don’t want to wait to be great.
On Monday, the Celtics gathered at their training facility to watch film and go through light prep for Game 5. The team didn’t spend much time on the court, but Brown stayed late for extra shooting. It was a way to fight the frustration that lingered from not being able to close out Game 4.