Isaiah Thomas has been a major reason why the Celtics had the second best record in the Eastern Conference since February 2nd.
I’ll be the first to say that I was right in my prediction of contending for a low-seed playoff spot, but how the Celtics reached this point nobody saw coming. This Celtics team proved a lot of doubters wrong thus far, and defied the NBA tank. The strange thing is, I’m convinced they aren’t done yet. That’s correct, I think the Boston Celtics could give the Cavaliers a run for their money, by either pushing the Cavs to 7 games or even taking the series. And if anyone else is feeling as bold as I am about the Celtics taking down the Cavs, you can go place NBA Odds for the series!
I’m going to play out a scenario, and you tell me if I am being overly optimistic, or completely sensible. Celtics upset the Cavs in 7 games. LeBron will get his 30+ points a night, but can only carry his team so far. Kevin Love, much like most of the season, struggles to fit into David Blatt’s offense. Kyrie is held in check by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. David Blatt, an untested NBA coach, gets out-coached by Brad Stevens. Celtics play as a team and move the ball around and keep Cleveland’s stars in check. Celtics take a few games early on in the series, and suddenly the Cavs are playing on their heels.
It’s no secret that Marcus Smart has temper issues in the past, but it seems to be flaring up on the NBA level lately. It certainly seemed evident in last night’s blowout loss against the Spurs, with Smart’s hit below the belt on Matt Bonner. It was announced today that Smart was handed for a one-game suspension by the league, in addition to an early 4th quarter exit in last night’s game.
Marcus Smart has been a physical defensive presence all season, but obviously you should never hit a dude below the belt like that. That was ruthless and idiotic, and in no way accidental. He’s a competitive player which is great, but you can’t get your frustration and emotions get the best of you.
The San Antonio Spurs – much to the delight of the majority of NBA fans – dominated the Miami Heat for their fifth championship since 1999. Although it seems only national recognition has come in the last week or so, the Spurs have been professional sports’ model organization since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997.
Duncan, along with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, formed their own “Big 3” that has somehow flown under the radar, despite now four championships won together. While Duncan was a No.1 pick and a once in a generation type of player, his play has declined in previous seasons. Notice that as Duncan’s age increased, San Antonio’s possessions, along with pace of play, increased as well.
Well, theNBA lottery has come and gone and the Celtics were left with the #6 pick. It may not be the top-3 pick many were hoping for, but in this loaded draft it’s still a very valuable asset and will have Boston fans excited about adding the next potential star to the Celtics’ roster.
In the spirit of rebuilding, however, it’s always fun to look back at what’s worked in the past! So before the draft speculation really heats up, here’s my look back at the Celtics’ best five players in this millennium so far.
5. Avery Bradley
The Celtics have really only had four players with lasting offensive impacts this millennium, so my #5 slot is reserved for more of a “glue guy.” Sure, Antoine Walker could have been put here, and in another few years Jeff Green and/or Jared Sullinger could earn spots. But Walker’s best years were in the late-’90s and Green and Sullinger need more time to make their marks. Bradley grabs this spot ahead of fellow defensive specialists Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins because he’s the best all-around player of the bunch. He remains one of the better guard defenders in the NBA, and has steadily improved his offensive game (admittedly, partially in the absence of Rajon Rondo or a go-to scorer on the team). Unfortunately, Bradley may have played himself into a contract the Celtics won’t be willing to pay.
4. Ray Allen
Frankly, the #4-#2 slots on this list probably vary from fan to fan, and I realize the attitude toward Ray Allen has soured significantly since his obnoxious departure to Miami. The fact remains, however, that from 2007-2012, Allen never averaged fewer than 14 ppg (per Basketball-Reference) and shot over 40% from the 3-point line in three of five seasons. Allen’s easy to hate now—particularly after pretty much winning the Heat a title with his heroic shot in game 6 of the 2013 finals—but the Celtics wouldn’t have won the 2008 title without him.
10.3; 1997; 2007; these are the figures Celtics fans will have on their minds when Celtics Co-Owner Steve Pagliuca represents the team at the NBA draft lottery tonight.
Of course, 10.3 represents the percent chance the Celtics have to land the top pick, which hasn’t happened since 1950.
The year’s 1997 and 2007 represent ‘what if’s’ for Celtics fans. Coming off of a disastrous 15 win campaign from then head coach M.L. Carr, and with two lottery picks and a 36 Percent chance of winning the lottery, the Celtics were in line to nab Wake Forest center and future hall of famer, Tim Duncan.
The Boston Celtics mercifully ended the 2013-2014 season on a low note, or a high note, depending on how your perception of the team may have fluctuated with every mock draft that was published. Regardless, the Celtics finished with a 25-57 record, their third 25 win and under season since the ill-fated M.L. Carr campaign of 1997. Danny Ainge will look to drastically improve the team through any means necessary, leaving no player untouchable.
Joel Anthony D
Good locker room guy, but his days of being an effective player have passed. Grade would not be so low if he didn’t possess a $3.8 million player option for next season.
Chris Babb C+
I personally had higher expectations after he earned stellar reviews by the coaching staff during the preseason. Was called up from Maine late in the season after Gerald Wallace was lost to injury. Already has the body type and skill to be an elite defender, but was unable to find any sort of semblance of offense. With Chris Johnson already flashing skill as a wing off the bench, it makes it unlikely Babb will be on the big squad next year.
Brandon Bass B+
The recipient of the ninth annual Auerbach Award, Bass finished the year averaging 11 points and just under six rebounds per game, carrying his typical work man like attitude in all 82 games this season. Bass was underrated on offense, shooting above league average on shots at or near the rim and on shots 10 to 16 feet away. He also earned the praise of Brad Stevens for his rotations on defense. Entering the final year of his deal, Bass may be an attractive trade chip in the offseason.
Jerryd Bayless B
Poor Bayless has just not had any luck sticking with a team. The combo guard out of Arizona landed on his fifth team in six seasons when the Memphis Grizzlies traded him to the Celtics in exchange for Courtney Lee. Bayless brought stability and veteran leadership to the tune of 10 points per game in 41 games played in Boston. A free agent next season, the Celtics may look toward the draft next season for guard help.