No Worries. Best is Still Ahead for Celtics
The NBA trade deadline has come and gone. The Celtics for the second consecutive year decided to stand pat. Leaving Celtics fans once again disappointed they didn’t acquire the superstar piece they needed. A feeling that has come far too familiar. In June fans thought Butler was on his way to Boston. This time it was Paul George. It’s been almost three years since owner Wyc Grousbeck mentioned “There could be some fireworks” in March of 14’. Celtic fans are on edge. And it’s hard not to be when you factor in today’s rumors combined with seeing Boogie Cousins moved earlier in the week for 10 cents on the dollar. Celtics have a treasure cove of assets. It’s tough to not think “Was that our best chance at a 2nd superstar?” Maybe it was, or maybe talks will pick-up again come draft time. But at the end of the day no team is set up with as much flexibility and long term success (outside Golden State) than this Celtic franchise.
No worries Celtic fans! As we leave the trade deadline the Celtics are right where they want to be. Winners of 11 of their last 13 and sitting 2nd behind Cleveland with a record of 37-20. All is well in Boston. Still with that being said, the best is still to come. The Celtics are finally on the verge of being fully healthy *fingers crossed*. Everybody loves to mention (no pun intended) Cavaliers’ Kevin Love injury. Yet he’s only missed 9 games this season. And yes JR Smith has missed a bunch of time as well…but it’s JR Smith and the Cavs added a better player in Kyle Korver anyways.
Here’s the list of games missed by the Celtics’ core players; Avery Bradly 21 games, Al Horford 12, Jae Crowder 10, Kelly Olynyk 7, Isaiah Thomas 4, and Marcus Smart 3 games. That’s 57 games missed between the Celtics 6 best players. That matches the 57 games they’ve played this season. The Celtics have had their starting five of IT-Bradley-Crowder-Johnson-Horford together for just 21 games. They’re 16-5 in those games. The Celtics are only 3 games back of the Cavs with both remaining matchups to be played in Boston (both likely without Kevin Love.)
The return of Avery Bradley cannot be understated. He’s having a career year in almost every statistical category with 17.7 PPG at 47.5 FG% and 40.3 3PT%. Not to mention his elite defense on the perimeter, which the Celtics have sorely missed in his absence. Bradley is one of just 5 players this season who are averaging at least 17 PPG, 47% FG, and 40% 3PT with at least 40 3PA (see below.) Combine this with the hot play of late from Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk plus factor in the development of Jaylen Brown, and you have a team finally ready to compete atop the east with the Cavs. Even possibly steal the 1 seed.
So despite nothing being done during the deadline, the consolation isn’t so bad Celtics fans. Finally a healthy Celtics team. The future looks bright, but not just down the road (thanks Nets). But the battle to represent the East is shaping up to be much closer than most believe! If that’s not enough just remember these assets aren’t disappearing. The Celtics are still the team to call if a star is being shopped in order to start a rebuild (looking at you Chicago and Indiana). They’re also in position to get the 1st pick in a loaded drafted draft not just this year but next as well (yeah Nets!). AND will be able to clear enough cap space to sign a max player this summer like Gordon Hayword, who Stevens coached at Butler (just saying). Life is pretty good Celtics fans!