Baseketball Hoop

Celtics sweep their way into NBA Finals

Sweeps are the pedestals on which great teams reside. Sending stunned foes home for the summer by dismissing them in four games is what separates awe-inspiring NBA teams from the merely great.

So why haven’t the Celtics been so canonized? They head to the NBA Finals as clear favorites, regardless of whether they play the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Dallas Mavericks.

(At least one onlooker is hoping it’s Dallas if for no other reason than to see the Celtics clamp down Kyrie Irving’s ever-flapping gums. And if Irving tries circling the parquet floor with burning sage, or whatever it was, someone should follow close behind with a can of bug spray.)

Returning from that digression, the Celtics could hardly have proven their mettle more dramatically. Their last three wins all required last-minute heroics. 

Monday night they trailed by nine with just under nine minutes to play. The Celtics chipped away, relying on their defense and this series’ ringmaster, Jaylen Brown, to push back on the Indiana Pacers.

That’s it – the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics’ sweep has been disregarded because it came against a wannabe contender.

It’s not as if the Pacers had more than a thimbleful of hope to win the NBA championship. They tumbled into the conference finals with a surprise takedown of the Milwaukee Bucks, but that did little to earn them much more than a resigned shrug in response.

But the Pacers didn’t wilt at the mere sight of the team that won 64 games in the regular season. Their wilting came when the Celtics defense decided it was time to smother them.

When Pascal Siakam’s little floater went in with 3:33 left, the Pacers led by four points and Joe Mazzulla called a time out, it was the upstart’s last breath.

Mazzulla is unlikely to have told his players that they had to keep Indiana from scoring again until their first exhibition game this fall, but that’s what happened.

The Celtics allowed zero points the rest of the night. Or the Pacers simply folded.

Pick the one that suits your rhetorical needs.

It was often less than pretty and sometimes downright clunky, but the Celtics completed a series sweep and now wait to see if Minnesota has a miracle in its heart or Dallas puts forth a sweep of its own.

Odds are, Kyrie will be back at the Garden.

Break out the cans of Raid.