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Liberty Links: The Boston Celtics are just one Danny Ainge leak away from turning this around

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Plus Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and more.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Providence Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers are not in the playoffs, so if you’re still tuning into the NBA, some old-fashioned animosity for Philadelphia’s rivals is enough to get the adrenaline going. It doesn’t get much better than seeing Boston teams lose.

Here are some links and smack talk for your reading pleasure.

A brief word on the Boston Celtics

The paper champions of the world are down 2-0 to a team who spent roughly half their season self-destructing. Zombie Rajon Rondo and the ghost of Dwyane Wade beating the Celtics senseless is one of the greatest slasher flicks of the 21st century.

Boston’s $113 million offseason signing is getting outplayed by Robin Lopez, a good player who nonetheless is best known for his animosity toward mascots. Jaylen Brown — who a few people tried to tell me was the Rookie of the Year, with a straight face — has a net rating of negative 53.1 through the first two games of the playoffs. “President” Brad Stevens, the current owner of the worst winning percentage in playoff history, is being out-coached by a man whose own fanbase wanted him fired a week ago.

As it turns out, beating up on sub .500 teams is not indicative of what a playoff series is like. Not having an extra gear to go to in the playoffs matters, especially when facing a team with a future Hall of Famer, a current top-10 player, and an infamously surly point guard with an axe to grind.

It’s quite possible the Bulls will cough this 2-0 lead up. But if I have to listen to an endless chorus of people drone on about all the questions the Sixers’ top prospects have to answer, we can spend a minute or two discussing how the Celtics haven’t won a playoff series since the Sixers started their rebuild. Boston has proven nothing on any stage that matters, unless you count the record number of incomplete “monster” trades Danny Ainge has leaked to reporters as a track record of success.

They have some really valuable picks coming their way and the Celtics will win a lot of games in the East in the years to come. Just let me know when Jae Crowder and his unbelievable contract can shut down Paul fucking Zipser in a seven-game series.

Meeting Markelle Fultz: A Day With The NBA's (Likely) No. 1 Pick — He Who Shall Not Be Named, Sports Illustrated

Later that night, he's asked about the chances of Big Baller Brand endorsement deal. "That's a high chance," Fultz says. "High chance. I was thinking about getting a couple hats for the family. I think that would be cool." His mom's sitting next to him on the couch and shaking her head. "I don't know what she's thinking about,” he continues, “but me and Keith are always talking about it. We're gonna get some hats."

"No you're not," his mother says, "You're not wasting that money. You can tape some B's onto your hat."

Sign me up for more back-and-forth between Fultz and his mother, please.

Kevin Garnett opens up on not cursing on TV and his ugly Timberwolves breakup — Adi Joseph, For The Win

Garnett is a fascinating dude and a guy who ducked out of the media spotlight as he progressed in his career, and it has been great to have him and his weirdness/brashness on TNT all season. He irritated me a hell of a lot with his antics and yelling when he was a Celtic, but Garnett is still one of my personal favorites.

Ben Simmons’ ever-changing (but not really) role within the Sixers’ offense — Derek Bodner

As always, you should be supporting Derek’s Patreon, but thought this bit on Simmons’ defensive position was worth spotlighting in particular:

There are very few instances where it makes sense to take a guy with the quickness to defend point guards, but also size, strength, and rebounding ability to bang down low, to then place him on the perimeter defensively. Have as many switchable athletes on the court as possible and you maximize your defensive potential. Asking Simmons to defend the point guard spot to make way for an Ersan Ilyasova style power forward would take away one of the unique advantages Simmons’ skill set provides.

In most instances, there’s no reason Simmons should be chasing guards around the perimeter.

Joel Embiid trolls Dirk Nowitzki over soccer win

Embiid was a little fired up yesterday, with his favorite team, Real Madrid, locked in a Champions League battle with Germany’s Bayern Munich:

After Madrid surged to the win behind a series of dubious calls and goals, the social media guru took the fight to one of Bayern’s biggest fans in the NBA:

Never change, big fella.