After finishing the 2014-2015 season 40-42, barely making the playoffs, and being swept in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, there were plenty of questions for this Celtics organization to answer for the upcoming season. Will the Celtics add that one star they’ve been searching for for years? Will “Trader Danny” trade any key pieces for a bigger piece to make this team a championship contender?
After striking out on big name free agents like Kevin Love and re-signing Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko, it seemed the Celtics were going to be in the same position as last year. They traded Gerald Wallace for David Lee and signed Amir Johnson, but they weren’t game changers. The Celtics had an almost identical team as the season before and fans were worried if the Celtics would be able to even contend in the Eastern Conference this season.
Fast forward to post All-Star weekend. Isaiah Thomas became an Eastern Conference All-Star and the go-to scorer Celtics fans have been waiting for. Marcus Smart is taking big leaps forward in his progression of becoming a solid NBA player. Avery Bradley is making a name for himself as one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. Jae Crowder is becoming the heart and soul of this Celtics’ team.
With no real superstars, unless you consider Isaiah Thomas a superstar (I know I do), how can this team be that good? They are currently sitting 3rd in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 38-26. They have notable wins over the Thunder, Cavaliers, Clippers, and other playoff contending teams. How can a team with no superstars beat and just even compete with teams with some of the best players in the NBA?
It’s easy; they’re a team. They’re a team of no superstars but players that play as one and work extremely well together. They’re not flashy and they don’t go out and try to impress others when they play. This is a team made up of players that were once told they could never be good. This is a team of role players with something to prove; that they CAN play. And they ARE pretty damn good.
From the smallest guy on the court to the tallest guy and from the rookies to the vets, they all play together and don’t solely rely on one player to take over a game. They all rely on each other to compete and play well. On nights where Isaiah Thomas may not put up his average 21 points, they look to another starter like Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder or a bench player like Evan Turner or Marcus Smart to pick up for him and make things happen.
The Celtics will make the playoffs this season, but the question is at what seed. They’ve been the 3rd seed for some time now, but with other Eastern Conference teams playing well it’s hard to say if they’ll keep that spot going into the postseason. How will they compete in the playoffs compared to last year? They probably won’t play the Cavaliers first round, so a sweep is not as likely, but if they win one or two rounds they could match up with the Cavs once again. The question is, could they take it to the Cavs in a 7 game series? Or will they get swept like the year before?
This is a far different Celtics team than the year before. On paper, there isn’t much of a difference, but the way they play and compete is something else. Now that they have experience and know what the feeling of losing is like, they don’t want to feel that losing feeling again. They want to do what nobody thought they could do at the beginning of the season, and that’s to win. And even if they don’t make it past the first round or the second round or make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, they know that they’ve made a name for themselves.
They’ve become a team that teams fear when playing against. They’ve become a team that will hope to attract a superstar in free agency. If the Celtics can add a few more key pieces and potentially a superstar, whether that’s through the draft, free agency, or a trade, the Celtics will be a team that will be competing for championships in the years to come.