The Boston Celtics will begin their NBA season tonight in Toronto as they face the Raptors. The 2013-’14 Celtics look much different than last year’s team. Doc Rivers went to Los Angeles to coach the Clippers as the Celtics received an unprotected 2014 first-round pick. Then the Celtics sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry on draft night to the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics acquired Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks,Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, and three first-round selections in 2014, 2016, and 2018. The Celtics can swap picks with the Nets in 2017 if the Nets finish with the higher choice. After the trade, the Celtics waived Joseph.
There was a surprise when the Celtics decided to replace Rivers with Brad Stevens as the head coach. Stevens led Butler University to consecutive NCAA Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011. He is only 37 years old. There are many questions whether Stevens can be successful in the NBA because he is taking over a rebuilding team and the recent failure of college coaches who transition into the professional ranks looms. Also, many fans are skeptical whether headstrong point guard Rajon Rondo can get along with Stevens after he had reported arguments with Rivers.
While the Celtics look toward the future, this season does not look promising. They will not be able to start the season with their most talented player in Rondo. Rondo is out after suffering a torn right ACL in a January 27th game against the Atlanta Hawks. He is not expected to return until at least December. The team has one true point guard (5-foot-11-inch undrafted rookie Phil Pressey) and one true center (the Brazilian Vitor Faverani). Both players lack experience as they have never played a game in the NBA. While Pressey played well in the preseason, he is undersized. Faverani can be physical in the paint and he can shoot from the outside, but how will he fare when he has to defend Brook Lopez?
Gerald Wallace is entering a very important stage in his career. When the 31-year-old forward was traded to the Boston Celtics, he was seen as an asset in a future trade for the rebuilding Celtics.
Wallace was traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the then-New Jersey Nets in March of the lockout-shortened 2011-’12 season for center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams, and a lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick. At that time, Wallace was seen as a starting forward for an organization who was moving to Brooklyn and looking to transition themselves into a championship contender. The Nets spent a lot of money in the summer of 2012 as they signed Wallace to a four-year, $40 million deal. Wallace was instrumental in helping lead the former Charlotte Bobcats into the playoffs in 2009-’10 when the Bobcats fell to the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Nets were forced to slightly overpay for Wallace because they sent their first-round pick to the Blazers and they were hoping to bring point guard Deron Williams back. With a core of newly acquired Joe Johnson, center Brook Lopez, Williams, and Wallace, the Nets felt like they could compete with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. The 12-year veteran out of the University of Alabama struggled with injuries as he averaged 7.7 points per game and shot less than 40% from the floor. The Nets suffered a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Bulls in seven games.
The local sports talk in Boston over Columbus Day weekend has centered on the astonishing come-from-behind victories by the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox on Sunday. The Boston Bruins are just five games into the 2013-’14 regular season. Then there are the Boston Celtics who continue to work in anonymity as the preseason winds down.
Currently, the Celtics are the bottom feeders in Boston sports because they sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets. Doc Rivers left Boston to chase a championship with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rajon Rondo is rehabbing from a torn right ACL that he underwent surgery on in February. The Celtics are left having to rely on holdovers such as Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Brandon Bass while they hope the newcomers (Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and Vitor Faverani) can integrate themselves into the organization. There is uneasiness about rookie forward Kelly Olynyk because he looks like he can become another Dirk Nowitzki,with his ability to shoot from the perimeter, but he played at Gonzaga and he is not seen as a great defender. Olynyk is not seen as a franchise cornerstone, but he is a building block. New head coach Brad Stevens has never coached in the NBA and he is jsut 36-years-old.
The Celtics are 1-3 in the preseason. They played awful in losses to the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics nearly finished a comeback victory against the New York Knicks and then they blew out the Knicks.
With the regular season opener just two weeks away, the Celtics’ players are using Twitter to have discussions with their fans and expressing their personalities.
Brooks is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons and he was one person among many Patriots’ fans who was cheering for Tom Brady and the Patriots to score on their final drive. Since Brooks moved to Georgia when he was six years old so it makes sense that he grew up as a fan of the Falcons. The Falcons and the New Orleans Saints are both in the NFC South. The (1-4) Falcons will need to win several more games to catch up to the Saints (5-1). Also, the Falcons already lost to the Saints in Week 1 and they are missing key players, including Julio Jones who is out for the season.
While people celebrated Columbus Day in Boston, this day is a different holiday in Canada. Canadians enjoy Thanksgiving in the middle of October and Olynyk is a native of Toronto. Thanksgiving is celebrated in October in Canada because Canada has an earlier harvest season as their crops are harvested by mid-October.
Can Brad Stevens develop the Boston Celtics into a title contender again?
There were thirteen coaching changes in the NBA this off-season and the biggest surprise was when the Boston Celtics hired Brad Stevens.
After Doc Rivers was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2014 unprotected first-round pick, the speculation increased that the Celtics would bring in a young coach because they were looking to rebuild with a youthful core of players. This became true after the Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to their Atlantic Division rival, the Brooklyn Nets. Many members of the media who cover the team thought that Danny Ainge would pick Jay Larranaga. Larranaga spent last season as an assistant coach with the Celtics and he was named as the lead man of the Celtics’ Summer League entry in Orlando. He also reached the playoffs in both seasons as the coach with Erie of the D-League and he was the son of the University of Miami (FL) head coach Jim Larranaga.
Ainge made a bold move instead as he secretly recruited Stevens to leave a comforting situation at Butler University to join the uncertain environment with the Celtics. Stevens was treated like a king at Butler as he helped bring the mid-major Bulldogs to consecutive national championships in 2010 and 2011. Butler lost to Duke in 2010 when current Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward nearly hit a half-court buzzer-beater and UConn in 2011. The recent failure of college coaches transitioning to the professionals ranks have people questioning Ainge’s move. College coaches have to adjust to the 24-second shot clock and players are making millions of dollars. Stevens is also 36-years-old and he looks more like an accountant than a coach.
Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley and forward Jeff Green celebrated special occasions last week. Bradley was in Austin with his fellow University of Texas alums like T.J. Ford and Royal Ivey to watch the Longhorns football team open their season against New Mexico State. Green enjoyed a healthy 27th birthday.
Ford had a mysterious tweet about Bradley and his family on Monday.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE later sent a tweet that Bradley is dealing with a family issue and it does not relate to Bradley’s health.
Whatever the situation is with Bradley, I know myself and every basketball fan will be praying for Bradley’s family.
The Boston Celtics have been in the news for the wrong reason this week with Celtics forward Jared Sullinger being arrested for domestic violence. Sullinger was eventually released on bail.
There were other Celtics’ players who enjoyed this past weekend as they celebrated a special occasion. College football season began last week and Avery Bradley visited the campus at University of Texas-Austin. Bradley played at Texas under head coach Rick Barnes. Jeff Green celebrated his 27th birthday last Thursday.
Bradley was in Austin to see the Texas Longhorns football squad take on New Mexico State. Texas routed the Aggies, 56-7. Bradley spent time with other former Longhorn basketball players like T.J. Ford and Royal Ivey. Bradley played one year at Texas in 2009-’10 when the Longhorns went 24-10 and lost to Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma City Thunder All-NBA forward Kevin Durant sent birthday wishes to Green. The two played together for the Thunder for three and a half seasons before Green was traded to the Celtics in February 2011. Green also tweeted pictures of himself and he looked healthy. This is good news for Celtics fans. Last year there were murmurs about how Green would come back after having surgery for an aortic heart in December 2011 that caused him to miss the 2011-’12 season. There have been so many changes in one year. Green is now going to be one of the key players on the 2013-’14 season. He will need to showcase his talent throughout the full 82 games because the team does not have Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce to rely on to provide the scoring load this year.