Well, that was a tough season to watch. This season’s Boston Celtics entertained us, but they certainly did not win too often, ending the year with a 25-57 record. When the year began, C’s fans knew that a tough road was ahead, but it hurts even more knowing how many games they could have won if they only knew how to close out games, and hang on to the ball. But the season was what it was, an 82 game prequel to better times ahead. Whether the Celts build through the draft, or through trades, it is more likely than not that this season will be one of the worst, record wise, in Boston Celtics history. Let’s recap the first campaign with Brad Stevens at the helm.
Biggest win- January 22nd @ Washington 113-111 (OT)
At first glance, you would think the C’s biggest win was the win in Miami early in the season, when Jeff Green miraculously hit a 3-pointer to win the game. But the January 22nd game against Washington was even a little more impressive. The team was coming off 3 straight losses and needed to put a stop to a losing streak. The C’s were outscored 30-15 in the third quarter and had every reason to throw in the towel. Instead they battled in the fourth quarter and forced overtime. The game proved to be Jeff Green’s best of the season, when he ended up scoring 39 points. This win becomes even more crucial when you factor in the team’s losses in the next four games.
Worst loss- April 4th vs. Philadelphia 111-102
The reason for this loss has nothing to do with the fact that I actually paid to see this game. Ok, maybe a little bit. I was at a bachelor party and the fact that I invested my hard-earned money to see the damned Philadelphia 76ers, rubbed me the wrong way. Especially since I couldn’t name more than 3 players on the Sixers, who are very, very, bad and were coming off their first win, 4 days earlier, after losing 26 straight games!!!!! There was no excuse to lose this game if you’re part of the Celtics organization. It was a Friday night and fans came out to see a guaranteed win. Instead they left with a dollar in their pocket after spending most of their time drowning their sorrows at the Patron Bar at the TD Garden. (Ok that was just me).
Best performance- January 15th- Jared Sullinger, 25 points, 20 rebounds vs the Raptors.
The Celts went on to win this game against the Atlantic Champs, and it was mainly due to the efforts of Sullinger. Whether you like his game or not, if you can grab 20 plus boards in an NBA game, you have to respect the man’s effort.
Worst performance- November 16th-Jeff Green 0-6 FGs, 2 points vs Minnesota.
The Celts lost this game to the Timberwolves and looked horrible doing it. But nobody looked worse than Green who made zero field goals in 29 minutes and 44 seconds of playing time.
When Danny Ainge traded up in last year’s draft to select Kelly Olynyk, many people questioned why he was so adamant in selecting the forward out of Gonzaga. With the injuries to Gerald Wallace as well as most recently to Kris Humphries, Olynyk has been able to show a steady improvement in his game. The 2013 draft class will go down as one of the worst in recent history, but you have to wonder where Olynyk would be selected if the draft were done over again. There is a distinct possibility that Olynyk would go top 8 in a redo of the draft. Take note of his 5.2 RPG rank, 2nd for rookies this season, his 8.4 PPG rank, 6th even though he is only averaging the 9th most minutes of all the 2013 rookies.
The biggest question facing Olynyk this offseason is does he have the ability to get better? He is still very hesitant in the low post, especially when dealing with grown men who have more meat on their bones. If Olynyk remains cautious in the post, he will have to improve his jump shot. During last year’s Summer League it looked as though he had NBA range on his jump shot. Unfortunately, his 35% from downtown is not something to write home about.
Ainge’s mid-season addition of Chris Johnson may prove to be his best of this season. Johnson, an undrafted rookie out of Dayton, is one of the most athletic members of the Celtics, and could be valuable to a very deep bench in the future.
Rookie Phil Pressey was steady in a backup role this season, but it’s up for debate whether or not he will be in Boston long-term. Rookie Center Vitor Faverani showed promise at the beginning of the season, but battled injuries all season, playing in only 37 games.
The Maturation of Coach Brad Stevens
I can say this without hesitation; Brad Stevens is the perfect coach for this team. Whether he is the perfect coach to win a championship will only be answered as his time in Boston continues. Stevens’ demeanor this season was perfect for a team that wasn’t expected to do anything. Other than a few negative comments from Gerald Wallace, as well as the mid-season departure from the team by Keith Bogans, Stevens seemed to get his players to buy into his coaching style. A hot-headed coach may have lost his team early in this kind of season. That would have been a disaster if this were the case. The C’s may not have won a lot of games, but they were in, what seemed about 85% of them, lacking late game execution to bump up their win total.
It will be very intriguing to see how Stevens and Ainge deal with the decisions to add a top-5 rookie next, or trade their assets to acquire veteran players.
It may be an overlooked fact, but it was great to see the fans come out this season, given the state of the team. The C’s ranked 14th overall in home attendance, a very respectable number. Of the 13 teams above the Celts in home attendance, only the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks did not make the postseason. On the road, the Green ranked 9th overall, proving Celtic Pride still remains high throughout the country.
Believe it or not, there are lots of candidates for the team’s Most Valuable Player this season. Hate him or love him, Jeff Green is the team leader in scoring at 16.8 PPG. Avery Bradley, if healthy all year, could have been the easy choice, especially since he upped his PPG from 9.2 last year to 14.8 this season, but his constant nagging injuries hurt his chances. Rondo may have only played in 29 games but he averaged 11.8 PPG and 9.7 APG, not too bad for a guy coming back from major surgery. Factor in the veteran leadership of Kris Humphries, as well as Brandon Bass and you have two more players that could be considered the most valuable.
But in the end, the Celtics’ MVP is Jared Sullinger. Sully averaged 13.3 PPG and 8.1 RPG this season. He has been a pleasant surprise, even if he has been playing all season as an undersized center. And Sully should only get better this offseason. He needs to work on more post moves, but more importantly he needs to work on his conditioning. If he is to become an NBA All-Star in the next few seasons, which is a possibility, he will have to up his minutes on the floor. His 27.6 MPG will have to increase, and it will help if he can slim down and get in better shape.