In a word, no. However it’s not for lack of effort, or better yet a lack of a lack of effort in their two blowout losses at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Boston Celtics can be eternally grateful to the Seattle Supersonics for blowing a 2-0 lead over the Denver Nuggets in 1994 for never ever having to be at the top of the list of No. 1 seeds who have struggled mightily once the playoffs rolled around.
They should also thank the Dallas Mavericks for falling to the Golden State Warriors in 2007.
There are a few more instances of No. 8 seeds taking down No. 1 seeds but these two are by far the most memorable.
This isn’t to say that the Celtics haven’t been shaky because they definitely have. To keep it all the way real, if Rajon Rondo remains healthy, Boston would have been hard pressed to make it out of the first round because the Bulls had them in an 0-2 hole before they knew what had hit them.
Boston may be more accurately described as the No. 1 seed that no one takes seriously, the top seed by default. Yes, they finished the 82-game regular season with a better record than the Cleveland Cavaliers but no one ever really thought they were the better team. The Celtics did what they had to do to get the top seed in the East. They let it be known that they wanted the top spot.
Yet the bigger story was about the what the Cavs weren’t doing at that time. Cleveland was slumping, struggling, looking out of sorts and having a losing record in the month of March. Unlike Boston, they couldn’t care less about whether they had the No. 1 seed or not. They were all about getting right for the playoffs. After a couple of shaky games en route to sweeping the Pacers in round one it’s safe to say that they have hit their stride.
Cleveland is all about peaking at the right time, which is now, and surviving and advancing and sweeping and resting. Every game in this series could be played in Boston and it wouldn’t matter, and this was the case before Boston lost Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the playoffs with a hip injury.
There’s no shame in bowing out of the playoffs to the defending NBA champs, but there is shame in getting straight up embarrassed. This is embarrassment in its highest form.
Fortunately, the Celtics made it to the conference finals and also have the No. 1 pick in the draft. They can get back to the business of attempting to shrink the gap between themselves and the Cavs next season.