Photo credit: Barry Chin/Boston Globe
Now you probably just read the title and thought, oh brother this guy is delusional, but I’m here to tell you that there is indeed a path for the Celtics to make the finals, it involves teamwork, everyone contributing, real leadership, and a bit of luck.
One of the biggest things that I think hurt the Celtics last year was the lack of teamwork. You had Kyrie Irving, who is 100% not a team player, pretty much always want the last shot or wanted to shoot no matter how bad he was doing, take the playoffs for example. That led to the team having little scuffles and overall made the team drift apart. During the season Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown had a hands on argument during a time out, that’s unacceptable. Also Kyrie essentially put the blame on his younger teammates during the Celtics early struggles in January. For someone who said he wanted to lead a team Kyrie sure didn’t set a great example with the Celtics. If the Celtics can come together and play more team ball, like the kind they did during the 2018 playoffs, they can realistically make a push. And when I say teamwork, I don’t mean everyone scores a certain amount a night, I just mean that players should be able to work with each other and accept that everyone has to touch the ball if they want to run a successful offense.
#2. Everyone Contributes
This should be fairly obvious but on a successful team everyone who gets minutes helps out in one way or another. There can’t be anyone who when they come in they don’t do anything to help. This means that even the deepest guy on the rotation needs to bring something to the table every night, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. When I look at the Celtics Bench pieces I see a bunch of guys who can contribute when they get in. First of all you have Marcus Smart. Smart is pretty much the heart and soul of that team and their defense. He’s proven he brings something to the table with his incredible defense and hustle. He also helps out in the passing game as he has an eye for open players. Another player who I think will bring a huge plus to the team is Carsen Edwards. He absolutely lit it up during the summer league and he could provide that instant offense off the bench if the starters are lacking. Not only does the bench have to bring it, but the starters do to. If you are starting and getting anywhere from 25-35 minutes on an NBA team, you must be able to either score, rebound, pass, or play defense, most likely it’s a combination of a few of those attributes. Enes Kanter is an example of great scoring and rebounding. Kanter will most likely be a night 1 starter because he can score at a high volume down low and can rebound. He averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds last year while only getting 22 minutes, so I can see those numbers going up to a double-double a night if his minutes increase. Overall the Celtics players all need to contribute this year, not matter how many minutes they get a night.
#3. Real Leadership
If there is one thing the Celtics really lacked last year it was a clear cut leader. Kyrie Irving came in and said he wanted to be the leader, we all know how that one went. During the Celtics deep run in 2018 people say the Celtics didn’t really have a leader then, so how did they get so far? Well how I see it is that Brad Stevens was the leader. Stevens could coach the team the way he wanted to with young guys who did what the game plan said and older vets who understood they needed to follow the game plan if they wanted to win, there was no one player who thought he could go out and do what he wanted and magically just win. On this years Celtics I look for Kemba Walker to be a leader. He’s a very humble player who is hungry to win, I could really see him come in and provide that veteran leadership that some of the younger guys need. I also want to see Marcus Smart be a leader too. He’s been there the longest out of everyone on the roster and knows the system the best. He hustles on every play and plays with more heart than anyone I’ve ever seen. I would love for him to teach the young guys how to hustle every night and how much every loose ball means.
#4. A Bit Of Luck
Even if everything I said above goes perfectly according to plan, there are better teams in the east that can beat the Celtics, so the last thing the Celtics need is just a pinch of luck. What I mean by that is teams like the Bucks and the 76ers I think have a better roster than the Celtics, and in a 7 game series I want to have faith in the Celtics, but looking at it realistically, they would probably lose. So with those couple of teams that are better there needs to be a little bit of turmoil in the locker room, maybe a bit of tension that leads to some arguments that ultimately throws off the chemistry, and maybes even results in a minor trade. Secondly players from those couple of teams need to underperform when they play the Celtics, like maybe Giannis has an off night that lets the Celtics squeak by with a 6 point win, something like that. Last but not least would be an injury. Now I’m not wishing an injury on anyone, that would be terrible, what I’m saying is that injuries happen, and with this section being about how the Celtics need a bit of luck I had to at least touch on it. Say there is an injury to the 76ers and a key player like Joel Embiid, someone who is injury prone, goes down for the playoff series against the Celtics, that would help out tremendously and might be enough for the Celtics to win that series. I wish we could live in a world with no injuries, but that’s not the case so if there is an injury maybe it helps the Celtics out in the long run.
I know that this all is a stretch, and that it will be very unlikely for all of these things to happen, but I have faith in them. Now say this all goes according to plan and the Celtics makes the finals, winning is a whole new ball game, but in the words of the great Kevin Garnett, anything is possible.
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