The Boston Celtics are in town tomorrow night to play the Washington Wizards. This is a big deal, right?
It is for me. I had this date with the Celtics circled on my calendar as soon as last season ended. Never mind that we didn't know the specific date until mid-August. I couldn't wait until John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the Washington Wizards renewed their rivalry with the hated team from Boston. I was dying for our team to have their next crack at Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and the rest of the Celtics here at home, a game that I was sure (after how many home wins in a row?) that would result in a W for the Wizards. Heck, maybe it would even be another funeral game, something we managed to pull off but the Cs...well, not so much.
But then the summer happened. Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland and the Celtics made it happen. The Celtics also coveted Gordon Hayward and needed to free up some cap room. Isaiah Thomas? Gone to Cleveland. Jae Crowder? Also gone to Cleveland. Avery Bradley? Traded to Detroit for Markieff Morris' brother (seriously?) and then to the Clips for Blake Griffin. They needed cap room, remember? And speaking of cap room, no bucks to re-sign dirty-player-in-residence Kelly Olynyk (now in Miami) or Amir Johnson (gone to be part of the process in Philly). Of the 13 players who appeared in more than half of Boston's 18 playoff games last year, nine are no longer with the team, including four of the five starters. And this was a number one seed team.
So if you are like me, maybe you are questioning if you really hate the Celtics any more. Trust me, you do. And I'm here to help. Let's get ready for tonight's game by taking a look at who will be out there on the court taking on the Wizards tomorrow. There's plenty not to like.
Tier 1 Players to Hate: The Leftovers
By the leftovers, I mean those players who played any significant role in the Wizards' second round playoff loss to the Celtics last year. Let's go in order of most hated to least hated.
Marcus Smart: If there's a Public Enemy No. 1 on the recent Celtics teams as far as the Wizards are concerned, it's Marcus Smart. Without his toughness on D, I'm not sure Marcus Smart has much of a profile in the NBA. But it's precisely because of his toughness and his willingness to mix things up that he is both in the league and at the top of most Wizards' fans' least liked players list. For me, it starts with Smart giving Bradley Beal a concussion and broken nose in a game in January of 2016. Follow that up about 10 months later when he got John Wall ejected based on a questionable and potentially (from this fan's point of view) embellished foul. Then after the Celtics eliminated the Wizards from the playoffs last year, Smart claimed John Wall's legs "were gone" in game seven of their second round series. Reserve your loudest jeers for Smart tomorrow, folks.
Al Horford: Summer 2016. Relatively weak free agent class. Tons of dollars available that offseason for like every team in the NBA. The Wizards' top two targets? Nicolas Batum and Al Horford. Batum, apparently was not interested in even sitting down to listen to the Wizards, preferring to stay in Charlotte of all places. But this post is not about Batum. Horford dragged it out a bit but ultimately picked the Celtics based on the hard sell by guys like Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder (Ha! Ha!). After the decision, it was reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi that Horford might have preferred the talent in Washington to Boston. No kidding! But he still chose Boston, blaming it on the fans who show up at 601 F Street.
If don't hate Horford enough for (a) picking the Celtics over the Wiz and (b) saying Wizards fans suck, remember he managed to strategically place his foot where it had no business being to make sure Markieff Morris sprained his ankle in game one of our playoff series last year. Horford can be as dirty as Smart. Make sure he's booed loudly tomorrow.
Terry Rozier: OK so I admit it. After Smart and Horford, there's not a lot to dislike about the Leftovers. If you are searching for something on Terry Rozier (and I am; I really am) remember his tussle with Brandon Jennings in last year's playoff when both players got tossed in the same game Kelly Oubre went after Kelly Olynyk. Yes, this was a Brandon Jennings moment at its finest and Rozier did nothing wrong really except to fall for Jennings' bait but it happened nonetheless and I can find some way to call it a continuation of the Olynyk thing. I'll be booing Rozier.
As an aside, I loved Brandon Jennings last year. He is a complete a**hole sometimes. But last year, he was our a**hole.
Jaylen Brown: The only thing I got here is Jaylen Brown was a significant contributor as a rookie to the Celtics beating the Wizards in the playoffs. How come the Wizards never have rookies that make a difference in the playoffs. Yep, all I got here is jealousy. I still hate Brown for being associated with the bunch that knocked us out last year. Again, booing!!
Tier 2 Player to Hate: Kyrie
So do I really need to write this one? All Wizards fans should despise Kyrie Irving for two reasons: (1) he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first of three number one picks in four seasons as compensation for LeBron leaving Cleveland and embarrassing Dan Gilbert into that childish Comic Sans font rant on the internet and (2) he's frequently compared favorably to John Wall as one of the best point guards in the NBA; he even made the All-Star game before Wall despite being drafted a year after Wall.
So, first things first. Yes, I'm being a conspiracy theorist with the Cavaliers and number one picks. But come on...
Secondly, Kyrie is no John Wall. They are both point guards, right? Point guards get assists, right? Kyrie don't pass. Kyrie's high assist average in a season? 6.1. John Wall high assist average in a season? 10.7. Sorry, maybe we should do this a different way. John Wall's low assist average in a season is 7.6. That's 1.5 assists per game higher than Kyrie's high. Want to do rebounds? Kyrie's never averaged 4.0 for a season. Wall's only season below 4.0 is this current one. Steals? Wall takes Irving every year. Same in blocks. The only thing Kyrie does is score. Point guards are supposed to make his teams better. How good were Kyrie's Cleveland teams without LeBron? 33 wins good in their best year. Awesome. For me, Kyrie slots between Smart and Horford on the hate meter.
Tier 3 Players to Hate: Making Up Slights
Honestly, there's really no good reason to hate on anyone else on the Celtics, but we can always try, even for players who haven't played all year. Here goes, we'll be quick and we'll go in order of most hated to least hated.
Aron Baynes: I know what you are thinking: who? Last season Baynes knocked Kelly Oubre out of a game when he gave KO a concussion when Baynes was playing for Detroit. Dirty play? You didn't hear it from me but you can be the judge by watching it on Fanrag Sports Network's post about the play.
Gordon Hayward: You will not get to boo Gordon Hayward in the game tomorrow because he's still recovering from that gruesome broken leg suffered opening night earlier this year. So why on Earth could we possibly not like Hayward? How about he beat John Wall in the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend last year? I told you I was reaching.
Jayson Tatum: Two things here and really neither of them are hate-worthy but look I'm still reaching, OK? First, Tatum went to Duke University and nobody and I mean nobody (except Duke students and alums) likes athletes from Duke. Yes, I get Kyrie sort of went to Duke too but I can't even count that stint there. Second? He's Bradley Beal's guy from St. Louis and Beal is going to congratulate Tatum if he has a good game, even if it's a loss. I hate that. What happened to hating other teams no matter the personal connection?
Marcus Morris: Speaking of guys on our team who don't hate certain opponents...In January of last year, Marcus Morris beat the Wizards on a buzzer beater while Morris was playing for the Pistons. So what was twin brother Markieff's reaction from the Wizards side of things? How about hugs and smiles for his bro and some congratulations after the buzzer. And Marcus hit the shot over Markieff. How about some team loyalty? How about walking to the locker room with a simple handshake? Again, what happened to hating other teams no matter the personal connection?
So by this time in the post I'm exhausted from all the hating and I've covered the top eight (plus someone who should be in the top eight) on the team already. I'll stop now because there's no reason on Earth for me to hate anyone else on this team (if I've even made a valid case for the nine I've named so far).
I gotta think Wizards fans have to make some noise to let this team know how much we hate them. I have implore fans (and I've said this before) at a minimum to get after Al Horford for the shade he threw at all of us in the offseason in 2016. There's no reason we shouldn't be loud and intimidating as a crowd tomorrow night. Yes, I know there will be tons of Boston fans there. I don't care. There will be more of us than there are of them. Let's make them feel the hate from the introductions before the game until the final buzzer goes off and caps a home team win. This is our moment Wizards fans. Let's not disappoint. After all, I went to all this effort to tell you how to hate.