The Boston Celtics didn’t have many high expectations coming into this past season. This year, all eyes were on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to continue to grow and bounce back from last season. All eyes were on Kemba Walker and how well he’d fit in the Celtics’ system. They all exceeded our expectations.
At the beginning of the season, my expectations were for the Celtics to make it to the second round. After having high expectations and false hopes the season before, I couldn’t put myself back in that situation, although I believed this team would be one of the best in the league if they played on the same page and saw growth from Tatum and Brown. They exceeded my expectations.
I’m not as upset about the Celtics losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals as other fans are. Why? Well, I never expected them to make it that far at the beginning of the year.
As the season went on, my confidence grew that this team was becoming a legit title contender. As I became a bigger believer that this team could win it all, I kept those expectations in the back of my mind and remembered that I couldn’t get too upset if they did end up losing.
Being a fan of a near-championship contending team led by a 22 and 23-year-old is pretty insane. Watching them sweep the Sixers and beating the defending champs in a seven-game nail-biting series was awesome. Making it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals with this group, even with Gordon Hayward being out for most of their run, shows how close this team is to compete for an NBA title.
What moves should the Celtics make this offseason to take them to the next level? Well, first of all, you don’t start by firing Brad Stevens, trading Gordon Hayward, or blowing up the roster. I’m not opposed to dealing Hayward if the trade offer is too good to pass up on, but that’s not the priority this offseason.
The Celtics need to target bench pieces, a better starting center, and more veteran leadership. The Celtics have a lot of young talent and draft picks for this upcoming draft. The Celtics can package their picks for a higher pick or package their picks with young talent to get back one of what I mentioned before.
I love Daniel Theis and believe he does a lot of things well for the team, but there are also many things he doesn’t do right. I’m all for Theis coming off the bench, but the team needs a better starting big who can get his teammates involved, play better defense, block shots, and rebound a ton.
Before they do that, they need to target bench scorers and shot creators that can come in and give Boston buckets when they need them. The biggest thing that held the Celtics back from being a legit title contender, in my opinion, was their bench. The Celtics had depth in the starting lineup, but their bench was thin, especially when one of the starters was out (which was pretty often).
The Celtics should be targeting players like Joe Harris, J.J. Redick, Jordan Clarkson, or even bigs like Aron Baynes and Marc Gasol that would help this team a ton. I’m just thinking of guys the Celtics could potentially sign/trade for if they get the money right. They’d most likely have to make some moves to sign or acquire one of these players.
If the Celtics could get more scoring and veteran leadership off the bench, as well as a better starting center in place of Theis, they’ll be championship contenders next season. They don’t need to make any drastic moves. Just fill in the gaps, get guys that will fit the system, and run it back. They made it to the ECF with this injury-riddled team. Imagine what they can do when they’re healthy and have better talent surrounding the core.
I’m excited about the future of the Boston Celtics. For once, I’m not nervous about Danny Ainge potentially trading away a franchise player for a star that might be leaving town after a year. I’m confident that this core that they have now is legit and doesn’t need to be touched. Ainge needs to do a better job of putting the bench together, and I think he will.
Don’t be too upset Celtics fans. They’ll be back next year and even better than they were this season. Another offseason of improvement and growth from both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will help this team even more.
Watch out, NBA. They might be done for this year, but they’ll be back and better than ever next year. Banner 18 is coming soon.
Photo: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill