The drought is over. After two weeks of sulking, pondering the meaning of life and my existence as a whole, and asking the basketball Gods why they feel the need to forsake me year in, year out, I’m back and I feel like I’m finally ready to talk about my beloved Celtics again.
First, I’d like to apologize, gathering my thoughts took a bit longer than expected and I’m sure you were all waiting with bated breath, so as a wise man once said, “Sorry 4 The Wait.” Second, I’d like to, but hate to, admit that I was wrong. Not only did they lose in front of the Celtics faithful, but they were blown out, AND nobody on the team died before letting that happen.
The big question now is, Was this past season a success or a failure?
Really, both answers work, it just depends how you choose to look at it. When Brad Stevens first got the job with the Celtics, he came in with the mind set of winning an NBA Championship. At the end of the day that is and always will be the overarching goal. So if you go by that mind set, then obviously this season was a failure.
On the other hand, Stevens is a reasonable man and knew that this year most likely wasn’t the year that the Celtics would win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. So his short term goals changed to improving upon last year and improving from game to game. In a way they were able to do this. Last year they finished with a record of 40-42 and this year they followed that up by winning 8 more games and finishing at 48-34. A subtle yet clear improvement. Last year they were swept in the first round of the Playoffs by the Cavs, but this year they were able to win two playoff games. Now I can’t help but think that going into the playoffs this year, Stevens had a goal in mind to win a playoff series, so again, in that sense, the Celtics failed. But I think the injuries to Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder let them off the hook a bit, because trust me, this series looks a lot different with a healthy roster and I actually think they win that series. But, that’s neither here nor there.
So you can see why answering this question is a bit trickier than it initially looks. As Celtics fans and Boston-New England fans in general, we feel a bit entitled and expect nothing less than greatness in any given season. So it’s easy to look at this season and call it an immediate failure. However, if you know the Celtics and Stevens’ mantra of “gradual progress”, then you really can’t sit here and tell me with 100% certainty that this Celtics team failed. But, here’s the kicker.
At their very best this season, the Celtics were able to contend with the best teams in the league. Sure they started the season slow and had their lulls throughout the season, but when they got rolling, there wasn’t any team in the league that they couldn’t compete with and they proved that with wins against Cleveland and Golden State, among others. When I wrote my column saying that the Celtics were contenders, I still to this day, will stick by that. At that time, they were hot, they were healthy, and they were finally beginning to mesh and play as a team. At that moment, they were clearly the third best team in the East and with their defense, there were even arguments that they could be LeBron’s biggest competition in the East. So with all that in mind, the way they finished this season was the deciding factor that leads me to dub this season as a failure. At the end of the season they were in the driver’s seat and had full control over their playoff destiny. All they had to do was finish the season strong but instead they lost to Atlanta and Charlotte and even after making the biggest comeback of the season against Miami, it was too late. They then got matched up with Atlanta, which is probably the last team they wanted to play with the exception of Miami. Obviously injuries played a major part in the series that ensued, but it’s still not a good enough excuse for the way they closed out such a promising season.
On the bright-side, we’ll get yet another rousing summer of free agent and trade rumors and speculations, but this summer will be different, mark my words. Next Tuesday, Isaiah Thomas will attend the draft lottery where the Celtics will have the chance to take home, I pray at the very least, a top five pick. I was on ESPN NH radio last week and was adamant that they would get the third overall pick and I’ll stand by that today. In addition to that pick, the Celtics have seven other picks in this years draft, so I fully expect them to make some kind of trade on draft night because they just don’t have the roster spots to take on eight rookies.
Beyond the draft picks, the Celtics have found an All-Star in Thomas, they finally have a substantial amount of cap room to haul in two big time players, and they have one of the best up and coming coaches in the league.
THIS IS THE YEAR.
For years now Danny has been telling Celtics fans that he would bring in big time free agents and he has failed to deliver, which hasn’t completely been his fault. Until now, the Celtics haven’t really been in the position to pull anything major off and it usually had something to do with the fact that there was nothing to lure players to Boston with besides the appeal of tradition and history. Now i’m not saying it’s guaranteed that the C’s will pull in Kevin Durant or the most coveted free agents, but if there was ever a time to do it, it’s this summer. Durant advancing to the Western Conference Finals definitely hurt the chances of him leaving OKC, but it’s not to late to pray for a Warriors sweep.
For now, let’s focus on the draft lottery, enjoy the rest of the playoffs (to the best of our spiteful abilities), and we can worry about all the rumors and speculations surrounding the free agents in a month or so.