Boston

Having fun is propelling the Celtics to new heights

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Don’t use the word “rebuilding”, don’t bother trying to fathom their roster composition or be oblivious to use of “tanking” for years to come. Right now, for what it seems, the Boston Celtics are having fun by simply playing their own brand of basketball and its resulting in unexpected wins that are galvanizing a fan base in the process.

The Celtics are currently winners of six of their last seven and are just a 1/2 game back from the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. A place where no one expected to be a reality for the franchise coming into the start of the season. Their doing it the way Head Coach Brad Stevens first visioned. By stabilizing a plan for the future, equipped with players buying into the intention of winning. As it stands, Boston doesn’t have one player on the roster that is an All-Star candidate, only Gerald Wallace is the lone player that is elder than the age of 30. The average team age of Boston is 25, making them the 4th youngest roster in the NBA. Gilded by the rise of point guard Isaiah Thomas, who right now is their best player on paper. Coming from a surging roster in Phoenix to now a role he has embraced in the “Stevens system”, is now what is seems as if he has found a home in Boston. Averaging 21.4 ppg he has established himself as the team’s leading scorer, as well as soaring Boston into dishing out the 4th most assists per game as a team (24.3).

Some puzzled the dealing of Jeff Green to Memphis. What the Celtics got in return was Jonas Jerekbo coming in off the bench, contributing as a lethal rebounder and moderate scorer exerting his presence as an energy guy has yet again solidified a “role” that Stevens has enforced on this team’s roster. Jae Crowder, who was part of the Rondo trade to Dallas, is a tough matchup for many small forwards to deal with, is a big body that gives many expendable options for Stevens to use for defensive purposes.

Players such as Evan Turner and Avery Bradley, who were living off their final make -or-break season before likely getting dealt with, have finally lived up to their worth. Turner who was looked at a reliant scoring target from Philadelphia last season, has equipped himself more so as an “on-ball” defensive presence than a big-time shooter. Bradley became a player that the Celtics faithful through to the wolves based on him not adjusting to the “speed” of the game in the three years they have already had him. Now, Bradley is the team’s second leading scorer, roughly producing 14 ppg and is shooting the best he has ever done in his career at 43%.

Teamwork all around is guiding the Celtics with make-shift talent to greater heights. (Photo Courtesy of USA Today)

Teamwork all around is guiding the Celtics with make-shift talent to greater heights. (Photo Courtesy of USA Today)

 

It hasn’t been simply the roster transformation that has made these Celtics fun to watch. The style of their play and captivating wins have set themselves apart. Isaiah Thomas their 5’9” point guard embellishes a fearless attitude as an offensive catalyst. He is their best player that can create his own shot off dribble penetration and his ability of seeing the floor is a reason why Boston rose from just 89 points per game a season ago to 101.

When Jared Sullinger went down with a season ending stress fracture weeks ago. Boston’s depth at Power Forward looked to be in troubled waters. Sullinger was the team’s most dependable presence on the boards and as a scorer. Sullinger led Boston with 14.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, leading the team. The biggest storyline surrounding Sullinger was he was coming into his third season in the NBA, his time of being an exclusive star had finally come. Instead of losing their edge, Boston bounced back. Tyler Zeller was picked up from Cleveland before the season started and even though he isn’t the most “sturdy” of Centers that there are in the league, his production has been respectable. Given the fact that there is no depth at all at the Center position, what Zeller has done pouring out 10.1 ppg and portraying added toughness is all Stevens can ask for right now, as drafting a premiere post player is needed for support.

Marcus Smart was a pick in last year’s draft that was filled with uncertainty. Question marks of whether or not he could mature in the professional system was looming large. But Brad Stevens has taken all of that ambiguity and turned it around a complete 180. The trust that has been connected with the rookie Smart and Stevens has been a sight to see. Smart has shown no signs of immaturity and has almost fallen down the path of being humble, a trait that so many players that have played under Stevens in the past have illustrated. Smart is one of the best lock-down defenders on the team and still is a few years away from making a drastic impact.

Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas have embraced the "having fun" approach  this season

Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas have embraced the “having fun” approach this season

 

They aren’t your typical playoff chasers. Boston doesn’t carry a guy that can carry them to the brink of a championship. Sure, Isaiah Thomas is a nice piece to the puzzle to what Danny Ainge is trying to structure, but currently he is their best man to lean on at the moment. Mounting monstrous comebacks and blowing up countless leads late in the 4th quarter are the reflections you can look at this team. But yet it emblenizes much more than that, everyone cares for one another. There are no “egos” that feel it necessary to put themselves ahead of another individual. It just doesn’t work like that for Boston.

It has been a roller coaster season that has clashed with highs of coming back from holes you wouldn’t think were possible, wins over playoffs team that should be rolling these young guns in the Atlantic over. Heck, no team has blown the amount of double digit fourth quarter losses than this bunch. Which has made it that much more enjoyable to watch.

Boston has beyond shattered everyone’s expectations set out for them at this point and why should they lay down and stop. They’re on the threshold of a playoff appearance, a dream that was envisioned for Brad Stevens 4-5 years down the road once he received the job.

After the win over Charlotte last week, Isaiah Thomas says he has fallen in love playing for this city and feels like that he can accomplish more with the team and how the team has gotten better the last month.

“I feel like we are playing at a high level. We were just talking and we’ve really been in every game except the Cleveland game. It shows that we’re making strides and we’re continuing to be a better team. I think it all starts from Brad. Brad is getting us all together and getting us to believe in one another. We’re like a family out there. We’re a lot closer than we were and it shows on the court.”

If you have the courage the give these guys an appropriate nickname to call themselves, than have at it, we’ll call it “spunky” if you will. Thomas and teammates have grown on the basketball court like a family. A family that is still growing, still wanting to strive for more and one that is trying to captivate a cities hearts one more time.

 

 

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