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Jay Williams spoke for all Boston Celtics fans after Monday’s night’s debacle against the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics were a 10-point favorite heading into Game 1 against the Sixers, who were without star center Joel Embiid. With no pressure hanging over them, the Sixers, led by James Harden, embarrassed the Celtics in front of the TD Garden crowd and escaped with a 119-115 victory.

When it was over, there were plenty of Celtics fans who were upset, angry, disappointed, etc. During an appearance on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max, Williams went off. He blasted the Celtics for an “embarrassment” of a performance that has them in an early hole.

Jay Williams doesn’t hold back when ripping the Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 01, 2023, in Boston, Massachusetts. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Offensively, the Celtics rolled in the first half of Monday’s game against the Sixers. They shot 85% in the first quarter, making 17 of 20 field goals. They made 71% of their shots in the first half. Celtics star Jayson Tatum had 26 points on 79% shooting. Despite the impressive offensive output, Boston only led by three points at the break.

Tatum was outclassed by Harden, who finished with 45 points and six assists. He made the big shots when they counted. Tatum and the Celtics didn’t. Tatum and Brown, widely regarded as the top tandem in the NBA, continued to show they have the worst hands in the league, turning the ball over in crucial moments. Boston collapsed in the second half. It’s as simple as that.

Jay Williams explained, and he got a little more heated the longer he spoke about it. He opened by giving Harden his props for his 45-point effort and putting his team on his back.

Then he ripped the Celtics.

“I have to say this,” Williams said, on Keyshawn, JWill & Max, “What an embarrassment for the Celtics. How pitiful? How ashamed, Key? What humiliation for the Boston Celtics.

“The Red Sea has parted for the Celtics to win an NBA championship. The Nuggets and the Suns are beating the hell out of each other in a physical series. You have the Lakers and Golden State Warriors about to go head-to-head with LeBron and Draymond…

“You were just in the NBA damn championship last year. You’re telling me that James Harden, without Joel Embiid, the MVP of this season — I am yelling, I am so damn pissed off. You’re telling me that this five-out tool team with Jaylen Brown, a defensive stopper, with Marcus Smart, Defensive Player of the Year, with Jayson Tatum last year, who we saw strap up Kevin Durant, with Al Horford. That team can’t stop James Harden in pick and rolls? They can’t stop him?”

Williams is right on the money


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Williams vented, probably like most Celtics fans did. He’s absolutely right. The door is wide open for the Celtics after the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks were sent home early by the Miami Heat. The problem all year for the Celtics is complacency.

Boston played down to the level of competition. When they get too comfortable, they fall apart and give new life to the opponent. Just ask the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, and Utah Jazz this year.

The Celtics also don’t have a leader. Say what you want about Tatum, but he isn’t a take-charge guy. He had one take-charge game in last year’s playoffs during a must-win Game 6 against the Bucks. Aside from that game, he’s been average at best in the playoffs. He’s a scorer. He’s a great player. But he’s not a take-it-to-the-next-level guy.

“I don’t think our pressure and intensity was necessarily as high as it probably should have been to start,” said Tatum to reports after the game.

Why not? Why hasn’t this been fixed? Who’s to blame? Is it Tatum? Brown? Head coach Joe Mazzulla?

Williams was right. It was an embarrassment for the Celtics. At the beginning of the season, Tatum insisted he had a bad taste in his mouth from getting eliminated by the Golden State Warriors at home in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year. He said he couldn’t wait for redemption.

Well, redemption awaits. The door is wide open, yet the Celtics don’t show a whole lot of interest in walking through it.