Boston Celtics

Celtics will be fine (for now)

They’ll be fine.

The ‘they’ is the Celtics.

They went out Thursday night and stunk out the Garden. Basketball fans from sea to shining sea folks watching for the first, second or 50th time were left dazed and confused.

Why would anyone with a shred of basketball sense call this group the favorite to win the NBA championship?

Why would hard-core Celtics haters with a shred of basketball not be giggling uncontrollably?

As mysteries go, this one is as maddening as they come. Thursday night’s study in hideous futility offered a clue or three.

There is a widespread theory that Joe Mazzulla is incapable of serving as the head coach of a middle school team. He comes across as a guy who commands his players’ affection.

That is a league-wide trend. The best of the best is able to insist on his players’ respect and get it. If they like the guy, that’s nice.

Many players want a pal coaching them. Maybe that’s why NBA teams have a dozen assistant coaches – a pal for everyone! And players who have second or third thoughts on a Designated PAL can mix and match at will.

The other individual who should shoulder blame for an embarrassing loss is Jayson Tatum, whose reaction during and after Game 2 was that of a man who discovered too few fries in his Happy Meal.

In Game 1 it seemed as though Tatum had finally learned that when his shots weren’t falling he could still help push his team across the finish line. In Game 2 he abandoned defense, rebounding and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

As the Cavaliers – a relentlessly mediocre team – built up an invulnerable lead in the second half, Tatum decided to pack it in.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the Celtics will win this series. The Cavs don’t have enough raw talent to prevent that.

But playing basketball peekaboo won’t work against the varsity teams awaiting them.