If you click on over to SBR, and read a Heritage Sports review, you will see why recreational and professional sports bettors always include Heritage as one of their top options when betting sports. But the oddsmakers at Heritage, and other top-notch online books, must be shaking their collective heads when trying to identify an acceptable line on the Boston Celtics. This is a team as enigmatic and mercurial as any in the NBA and Celtics’ fans are feeling the same frustration as those trying to bet with them, or against them.
We see glimmers of hope but then, in a flash, frustration and confusion come to the fore yet again, as it did on Saturday night in Chicago. Boston’s last several games have been a microcosm of the entire season. Talented club with a bona fide superstar, and a few others waiting to blossom, reels off 10 wins in 11 games. After yet another victory, they return home to take on both LA entries within two nights of each other, where the oddsmakers are hanging the Green as double-digit favorites in both contests, and Boston proceeds to lose not one but both. Then, like flicking a light switch, the same team that just laid an egg in consecutive games to inferior opponents travels to Philadelphia to beat one of the preeminent Eastern Conference powers and follows that up with a sound victory over the Pistons.
And despite losing a 98-97 heartbreaker to the Milwaukee Bucks in the following game, we can forgive that road loss against the team with the best record in basketball. But for the luvva gawd what we can’t forgive, or understand, is losing the next game to a team like the Bulls, as 10-point road favorites mind you, contending for the No. 1 pick in the draft by virtue of owning one of the worst records in the league! And to add insult to injury, the Bulls were playing the second leg of back-to-back games, yet the Celtics still bowed 126-116.
Championship caliber teams very rarely fall to the dregs and although they may not cover the number, losing outright is an aberration – a one-off, if that. Even very good teams routinely pad their records against sub .500 clubs like the Bulls, Lakers, Magic, Heat, Suns, et al. Well, not your local entry because Boston has lost to all of those teams which is why their 61.7 winning percentage is good enough to assure them the No. 5 spot in the East but well below preseason expectations. To borrow a term from Kevin Garnett, where’s the grit and balls? Where is the team from last year that took LeBron’s Cavaliers to seven games without Kyrie and Hayward?
Maybe “team” is the operative word. After Saturday night’s loss to the Bulls, Marcus Smart summoned a ray of optimism followed by an expression of the same angst and frustration Celtics’ fans are feeling. “Yeah, we’re good. We’re still in a good position. We’ve got a lot of basketball left. We lost here last year. We got blown out here last year (108-85 in December 2017), and in the end of the season, we were still fighting for everything we wanted to fight for. We still were in the last game of the conference finals. So, this is not the end of the world, but it is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing. Just our effort is embarrassing. How we played is embarrassing.”
When pressed further Smart had this to say, “It’s all simple. It’s just effort. Just effort. That’s definitely it. It’s plain and simple. Just effort…You know, we’ve got all the talent in the world, but you know… I don’t even know what to say. Like, really, I have no words.”
And neither do we.