Help Wanted…

      Over the last 15 games, the Boston Celtics are 8-7 while averaging 102.4 ppg and giving up 101.06 ppg. In that span, the Celtics are giving up over 4 points per game more than their season average. Does this point to the beginning of a slump? I believe it is just that time of the season where the players are worn down from the schedule. Up to this point, the Celtics played the most games to begin the season, with playing 43 games in the first 82 days of the season, while they have one of the easiest remaining schedules of the whole league.

      With the season over halfway done, the Celtics need to sign a free agent or two to come off the bench and help the second unit with scoring. With the trade deadline passing, and the Celtics not making a move surprisingly, the team should look to the droseplayers that are being bought out of their contracts and are available. A potential target for them includes Derrick Rose, who was traded from the Cavs to the Jazz and was waived by Utah following the trade. Since his glory days with the Bulls, he is averaging 16.4 points in 80 games with the Knicks and Cavaliers while shooting 46.7% from the field and shooting only 22.6% from 3. For his career though, he is averaging 19.2 points on 45% from the field and 30% from 3. The problem with this would be that he has left the Cavs and Knicks during the season without much of a warning and stayed away sessionsfor a few days. Another target for the Celtics could be Ramon Sessions. The 10-year vet has shown that he is a good scorer off the bench with averaging over double digits 7 times throughout his career and for his career, he averages 10.4 points a game on 43.5% shooting from the field and 31.4% from 3.

      They did manage to help with rebounding when they signed Greg Monroe for the rest of the season following his buyout from the Suns. Monroe averages 8.7 rebounds for his career. This was a good signing, as monroeMonroe can fill in for Horford or Baynes throughout the game so that there is always a big on the court to protect the paint. In the three games that Monroe has played for the Celtics, he is averaging 4 points on 33% shooting and 5 rebounds per game.

      The Celtics need to add one more scoring option to come off the bench, especially since they do not have Gordan Haywards scoring ability this year and most likely won’t have it until next season with the leg injury. The team needs to show that they can still keep up with the top teams in the league even with how young and inexperienced most of the players are.

      If the Celtics want to be able to get deep through the playoffs, they will need to smarthave capable scorers to come off the bench. They will also benefit from the return of Marcus Smart, one of the teams best defensive players, who has been out with a lacerated hand for the last 10 games. In those 10 games, the Celtics are 6-4 while averaging 104 points but also giving up 103 points. With two of those losses coming by at least 20 points and have fallen behind the Raptors for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. To help with the defense, they could sign a familiar face in Tony Allen now that he is a free agent following his release from the Bulls following his trade from the Pelicans.


A Bright Future for this Celtics Team

                As we all figured, the final two teams standing are the Cavaliers and Warriors for the third straight year. On Thursday night, Cleveland beat Boston to advance winning the series 4-1. Boston was the only team that the Lebron James led team did not sweep in the playoffs this year, while Golden State eased through each of their series to be the first team to go 12-0 in the playoffs. Even though this match up could be seen coming since after Cleveland won the title last year and especially after Kevin Durant signed with Golden State, I believe that some of the teams in both conferencesecf2 will step up to the challenge and get closer to the level that the Warriors and Cavs are playing on and be closer to ending this streak of Finals appearances for both teams. For the Boston Celtics, the future is so very bright in terms of what they can accomplish.

                This is just the beginning for the young Celtics team; they will be towards the top of the East again next year. This team seems primed to make another run at the Eastern Conference Finals next year with all the talent that they currently have and the opportunity to acquire more whether it is from the draft and using the top pick or by trading that pick for someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. They also have the advantage of having one of the best young coaches in the NBA in Brad Stevens.

                This franchise has come far from where it was just 4 years ago at the start of the Stevens era. This team had just come off a 41-40 year, the franchise sent their greatschampionship winning head coach to the Clippers, they had traded two of the greatest players of this generation to the Nets for a bunch of bench players and a few draft picks and were beginning the process to rebuild. No one expected Coach Stevens to succeed in the NBA since most college coaches struggle in the pros unless you have a team built to win now. In his first year, he led the team to a 25-57 record, the worse since 06’-07’, and would draft a scrappy guard from OK State in Marcus Smart with their first-round pick.

                   Going into the trade deadline in his second season, Coach Stevens had the team at 20-31 and in need of a boost somehow. Towards the final moments of the coach stevensdeadline, Danny Ainge would pull off one of the most one sided trades this decade, two years after he pulled of another one that did not seem like it at first; he would swap Marcus Thornton and a first rounder for the undersized guard in Isaiah Thomas. That season they would end with a record of 40-42 and get into the playoffs with the 7th seed.

     IT4     Since the acquisition of Thomas, the Celtics are 121-74. This team has been able to improve every year under Stevens. They have increased their win total each year from his first year and going 25-57 to this past year and winning 53 games and appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also helped that they could lure one of the best big men in the league in Al Horford from Atlanta. With the amount of young talent and the stash of draft picks, I would certainly say that the future of the Celtics is very bright and that they are ahead of schedule in terms of finishing their rebuilding phase of the franchise last year and are able to win now.

History Denied! Cavs brought back to earth.

                As many people saw in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs showed no mercy to the Celtics and handed them their worst loss in the postseason in franchise history, 130-86, and lead by 41 points at the half, 71-30, which is an NBA playoff record. This postseason seemed like it would be a breeze for the Cavs after sweeping the firsbost 2 rounds and winning the first two games of the series against the Celtics. Coming into game 3, the Cavs were on a 13-game playoff winning streak going back to the Finals last year against the Warriors. That winning streak tied the 88-89 Lakers as the longest in playoff history. What made it worse, was that the leader for the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, was ruled out of the rest of the playoffs with a hip injury.

                After the 1st quarter in game 3 between the Cavs and Celtics, the Cavs took an 11-point lead and seemed like it was about to be another blowout and would give the Lebron led Cavs the playoff record for 14 games won in a row in the postseason. At half, it seemed like it was going to get bad as the lead ballooned to 16 points. Even as the lead grew to 21 in the 3rd quarter, something clicked inlebron the Celtics and they would go on an improbable run to get within 5 points at the end of the 3rd, they were lead by Marcus Smart who would make 7 3’s and score 27 points overall. Their passion/drive would continue into the 4th quarter and would win the game on an Avery Bradley last second 3 point shot to win the game 111-108! According to ESPN, before game 3, Lebron was 49-0 in the postseason when his team was leading by 20+ points. Now its 49-1! That goes to show that the Celtics were not going to lie down and take it like in game 2. ESPN also stated that Boston is the first team to win a playoff game following a 40+ point loss in the last 35 years.

                With this win, the Celtics pulled off the biggest upset in the playoffs in the last 20 years. They were 16.5 point underdogs coming into this game. In everyone’s mind, including mine, did not think that Boston could pull off this win, especially after the way game 2 played out and losing the heart and soul of their team in Isaiah Thomas. After how game 3 played out, you could say that even though their leader wasn’t playing anymore, everyone on that team would not give up and played with heart. The same way Isaiah did after his sister passed away right before the playoffs started. The biggest mystery of the game would be, where did Lebron James go. In this game he shot 4-13 for 11 points 6 rebounds 6 assists and the biggest shocker is he had 6 turnovers in this game. Coming into this game, he was averaging over 30 points in the playoffs. That could be a bad thing for the Celtics for the next game. He could go off on them, but we have to wait and see.

                Throughout the playoffs, the Celtics have been out there to prove that they deserved the #1 seed in the East, even though people thought they were the most overrated top seed ever. At points during the postseason, there were times that they did, but at others they looked like a team deserving of the top seed. This team will keep fighting until there is nothing else to fight for, whether they win the championshipecf2 or they lose against whomever. This team won’t stop believing that they deserve to be there. Even though this series will end with Cavs moving on, I truly believe that the Celtics are moving in the right direction to challenge Lebron’s team for the throne of the East. This franchise has come a long way in a short period of time since trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and thanks to the Nets in return, Boston gets the top pick in this years draft, which can help them get closer to Cleveland.