BOSTON – Just three years ago, the Celtics were regarded as a team that was feared by many. This team was lead by the stellar play of its “Big Three”, which included Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. However, these three players have all aged and, consequently, are past their primes. Not one player from the team’s 2007-08 championship run is still on the roster.
Fortunately for Boston fans, this season’s revamped Celtics roster is boasting young, promising players such as Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, and Evan Turner. Boston’s unseasoned lineup is lead by the young Brad Stevens, the former Butler coach. With so much youth, inexperienced play is unavoidable.
5 Games Into the Season: 2-3 record
Such problems were apparent only a mere 5 games into this season. Boston was floundering as it held onto a 2-3 record. Although it ranked 6th-best defensively, the offense was incompetent. According to ESPN Hollinger stats, the Celtics were mustering only 98.3 points per 100 possessions. (Of course, such a small sample size signifies that these statistics may be destined to change).
These statistics posed a question: why was it that a young, explosive team could not score? The main culprit to this issue is likely due to the fact that the Celtics lack a superstar. By this, I mean that the Celtics do not have one player that will consistently score 25 or more points a game, and help groom the young team.
Isaiah Thomas is still the closest thing to a playmaker that the Celtics have. He is an important component in the Boston offense. His presence is missed gravely as the Celtics score 10.3 fewer points while Thomas is on the bench, per NBA.com.10 Games Into the Season: 6-4 record
After a rocky start to the season, the Celtics picked up speed, winning 3 games in a row. These 3 wins consisted of impressive victories against a trio of respected teams: The Hawks, Thunder, and Rockets. When asked about the importance of the victory against the Hawks, Brad Stevens acknowledged that “it depends on if [the Celtics] can continue to build and grow”.Stevens recognized that this game needed to be used as a positive jumping point from which the Celtics can build the rest of their season on. They needed to remember that they have the ability to compete with, and beat, strong rosters such as that of the Atlanta Hawks. Two games (and two wins) against the Thunder and Rockets later, it appeared as though the Celtics players had taken that advice to heart.
18 Games Into the Season: 10-8 record
Currently, the Celtics are resting as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, and are just 3.5 games out of 1st place. This placement in the standings foreshadows the Celtics playoff hopes and capabilities.
The Celtics’ young roster is recognized around the league as one of the toughest defenses in the league. This praise is perhaps overshadowed by the developing offense. Boston is facing the same issue it faced at the beginning of the season: the need for a superstar. Brad Stevens is still shifting around the lineups each game, trying to determine what combination will help the Celtics produce more points. That being said, if the Celtics can continue winning at their current rate, they will have a good chance of finding themselves in the playoffs, 64 games later.
The overall vibe emanating from the Boston Celtics is a positive one. Boston fans should expect exciting things from this young team for many seasons to come.