As we grow closer to the All-Star break in the NBA, I want to take a look back at the trade that shocked the league. As many fans of the NBA know, Kyrie Irving was traded from the Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the last first round pick that the Celtics received through the Garnett-Pierce trade with the Nets.
With more than half of the season over, it seems as if the Celtics have won the trade and by a wide margin. kyrie has been playing at an MVP level with leading to the team to the top spot in the Eastern Conference while averaging 24.9 points a game, which ranks 10th in the league, 5 assists a game and just under 4 rebounds a game.
In comparison, the players that the Cavs received, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic, average a combined to score 25.2 points a game, 5.4 assists a game and 6.5 rebounds a game. The highest scorer out of the three is Isaiah Thomas with 15.4, but that average is only from Thomas appearing in 12 games this season after he was recovering from the hip injury he suffered in the playoffs last year for the Celtics.
I strongly believe that the Celtics won this trade since Kyrie has been able to lead the team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Since Isaiah Thomas made his debut against Portland, the Cavs are 5-7 and scoring 108.6 points a game, but giving up 116.1 points in that span. Meanwhile, Boston is 7-5 in that same span and scoring 101.75 points, but holding teams to just 97.5 points in that span.
That is the main difference between the two teams, Boston has been able to play terrific defense throughout the year to help them win games. As of now, the Celtics are second in the league in points allowed per game at 98.3 points only behind the Spurs of San Antonio, and the offense is ranked 23rd with 103.1 points a game. In Cleveland, their offense is ranked 5th with scoring 109.6 points a game, but their defense gives up almost the same amount with giving up 109.3 points which is tied for 25th in league with the Bulls.
It helps that the Celtics were able to mold their team around Irving, which is one reason why Irving has been able to get better on defense compared to how he was in Cleveland. The problem with the Cavs is that they mold everything to Lebron James and hope it works even if the players don’t work in the system.
This isn’t the first time that Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM, has been a part of a trade and come out the winner. Many NBA fans know the trades he made when the team got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join up with Paul Pierce and went on to win the title in the ’07-’08 season, then there was the trade of Garnett and Pierce to the Nets for a few first round picks and that experiment failing for the Nets to the point that the Celtics had lottery picks with each of them leading to the team being able to draft Jaylen Brown out of Cal, and Jayson Tatum out of Duke.
Unless something happens in the near future, Boston has this trade won hands down. Here is to more trades that the Celtics come out as winners of!