Source: Jim Davis/Boston Globe
It's no secret that Jae Crowder rustled some feathers around the league with statements he made last week. The first was on Kevin Durant, and what the Celtics did to try and bring him to Boston. The second was on his goals for the upcoming season, where some people have interpreted that he threw a little shade at the Toronto Raptors.
Here are Crowders comments on KD per ESPN's Chris Forsberg,
"We were the only team in the NBA to beat Cleveland and Golden State on their home court. The only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics. We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded Steph Curry and Klay Thompson -- our entire game plan, basically. That's what made me mad. We ------- told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them.
Afterward, I was talking to Isaiah Thomas, like maybe after you sit back, we shouldn't have told him everything, but who the f--- thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically."
And here are Jae Crowder's comments on his goals for the season:
"My guys were telling me that Bleacher Report says we'll win 59 games. That's a lot of wins, but I want to get past the first round of the playoffs. Two seasons in a row getting swept. that's my goal to be honest with you. I think our ceiling is the Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto is not a team we're worried about. I think Cleveland is the top team. That's what it comes down to."
Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll responded harshly to Crowder's comments,
“I think it’s a comment from a person who hasn’t been in a playoff situation. When you haven’t been on that level you don’t understand what it takes. Myself, going to back-to-back Conference Finals, I know what it takes. I think it’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t played at that level, sounds like a young guy comment.”
Jae Crowder is a guy that plays with a lot of emotion and passion, so it's no surprise that when he gets angry he channels the same fire into his words that he uses on the basketball court. With his comments on Kevin Durant, it's easy to understand why he would be upset. The Celtics pulled out all of the stops to try and bring him to Boston, including sending Tom Brady to try and woo him. According to Crowder, they also divulged the strategies they used to beat some of the best teams in the league and that's just another disadvantage for the Celtics when they have to face Golden State next season. The Celtics are a team of underdogs and they love to have motivation, these guys are scrappy, hard nosed players who fight for every win. I think Jae's comments on KD are what all of the players are thinking, they feel disrespected, and they are going to let Golden State know that next season when they face off.
As for Crowder's comments on Toronto, I think they're being blown a little out of proportion. He sees the Celtics as a team with the potential to make the Eastern Conference Finals, and recognizes that the last two postseasons have culminated in failing to achieve that goal. The Celtics have to get out of the first round and he harps on that. Cleveland is the top team, the defending champions.
Like it has been since 2011, the Eastern Conference runs through LeBron James. Crowder meant no disrespect by acknowledging that Cleveland is the team that the Celtics have to defeat to win the conference, and that's evidenced by what Cleveland did in the playoffs last season. The Cavs swept the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks and then dispatched the Toronto Raptors in 6 games to make it to the finals against Golden State. Just because Crowder says that they're not worried about Toronto doesn't mean they'll take them lightly, it just means the Cavs own the conference and the Celtics mission is to beat them.
Now is Jae Crowder speaking out like this good for the Celtics? In my honest opinion, absolutely.
The Celtics need an enforcer, and we've routinely had them on our championship teams. In 2008 we had Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce wasn't afraid to speak up, either. In the 80s, the Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish who were all guys that had no issue talking on and off the court, and backed it up with their physicality.
As Celtics fans, we love the guys who try to defend Boston, but it makes sense that around the league they are universally disliked. Will the Celtics hear more boo's now because Crowder has spoken up? Yeah, they probably will. Is that going to bother the team that is going into a hostile arena to try and defeat an opponent? No, it won't.
This team is as strong as ever mentally, with the addition of Al Horford. They play for each other and tune out the noise. Crowder's words just tell you what kind of season it's going to be for the Celtics. It's a revenge tour.