About two hours after Game 6, I walked past the Golden State locker room and saw the remnants of the short but loud party. Empty bottles were everywhere, with Modelo and Moet being the obvious drink choices.
▪ Say what you want about Green, but the man is an elite troll. TD Garden fans in Game 4 were issued white t-shirts showing all 17 Boston championship banners, with an empty seat for No. 18. Green got his hands on one, and after the Game 6 win, he or an accomplice used a black one Markers to write “Warriors” on the blank banner and “Nope!! Maybe in 23”, in it. Then he wore the shirt on the flight home.
▪ These teams only meet twice in each regular season and one finals match is not enough to trigger a real rivalry. But thanks to some of the minor battles – mostly with Green – the seeds are certainly there. Some have already suggested that this Christmas Day rematch should be shown next season. But as long as Kyrie Irving stays in Brooklyn — which isn’t a certainty — it should be Celtics vs. Nets and Warriors vs. Grizzlies.
▪ But if you can’t wait until next year to reciprocate, the Celtics and Warriors meet July 12 at 8:00 p.m. in the Las Vegas Summer League. Can you feel the excitement?
▪ Former Celtics basketball CEO Danny Ainge told me more than a month ago that he was coming back to Boston to attend the US Open at The Country Club in Brookline. So it was no surprise that he was at the TD Garden last Thursday.
Ainge ran this franchise for 18 years before retiring last summer and eventually re-emerging as Jazz’s CEO and deputy governor. His son Austin is still assistant general manager of Celtics and is very close to just about everyone within the franchise.
So somehow, it didn’t seem out of place to see Ainge, who holds a top job with another NBA team, walking through the tunnel with Tatum and Jaylen Brown after last buzzer. In almost any other situation, this juxtaposition would have been quite odd.
▪ There were some tense moments during the final, but it’s really wild that all six games ended in double digits.
▪ Tatum’s first NBA Finals were memorable and it’s a shame his final night of a mostly excellent season turned into one of his worst as Celtic. Adding to his 6-for-18 shooting, he just seemed lost at times and his confidence seemed shattered.
I remember having possession in the fourth quarter when he caught the ball in the left corner — an extremely high-percentage shot for him — then hesitated, drove to the rim and was clearly confused in his journey, one of his NBA-record 100 playoff turnovers .
You could actually hear fans shouting “Shoot it!” before passing that corner three.
Tatum is the only one who can say if fatigue contributed to his slowdown. He certainly had a long year, from the Tokyo Olympics to leading the NBA in the playoff minutes. But it’s hard to believe that this was the point at which the wear and tear finally became too great.
The Finals saw two rest days after four games, a virtual vacation compared to the rest of the season. The timeouts were longer, there were no overtimes, and all the one-sided results reduced the intensity of the typical late-game high-stress, high-energy moments.
Tatum’s 28.8 percent stakes in the playoffs trailed the likes of Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry.
Maybe Tatum just wasn’t ready for the biggest stage. But experience will certainly help.
▪ The playoff crowd at TD Garden was significantly louder than any opposing venue. Strangely, there seemed to be no boost. The Celtics ended the postseason 6-6 at home and 8-4 away. The Warriors, meanwhile, were 11-1 at home.
▪ If Celtics fans are looking for something to feel good about, check out some highlights from Robert Williams. The 24-year-old center was hampered for much of the playoffs by ongoing pain following knee surgery in March, but he began to resemble his usual over-the-top self against the Warriors.
When he wasn’t chipping shots — he had 17 blocks in the streak and averaging just over 26 minutes per game — he was making Golden State players reconsider their lane decisions. The Celtics know what they have in Tatum and Brown, but Williams’ ceiling continues to climb and his development could be the most important factor in the Celtics’ pursuit of a title.
▪ The Celtics bench could probably use an upgrade, but the drop in playoff minutes didn’t really indicate coach Ime Udoka’s lack of confidence in his reserves. Stars’ playing time is increased whenever games matter most. That’s not unusual.
Derrick White, Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams all had stellar moments during the playoffs. They just didn’t really shine in the final. Against Golden State, Williams had a net rating of minus 22.8 and White had a minus 18.7. Pritchard has been 0-7 off the field in his last three games.
▪ I’m a self-proclaimed chocolate chip cookie expert. Next time you’re in San Francisco, pick up one at Victoria’s Pastry in North Beach. I may or may not have checked in four times in the past few weeks. It’s the best I’ve ever had.
▪ When a team has some issues in a particular quarter, there is a tendency to analyze obvious issues occurring in those segments. For a majority of the Finals, for example, the Celtics were beaten in the third period, a stretch Golden State dominated throughout the playoffs.
Throughout the postseason, the Celtics outperformed opponents in the second quarter with 12.8 points per 100 possessions, the best mark in the NBA. They had a net rating of +9.4 in the fourth quarter and a -6.0 in the third quarter. Their first quarters were even dead.
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.