Bostonians have been spoiled for the last decade and a half by their superior sports teams. Three championships each from the Patriots and Red Sox, plus one title from the Bruins and Celts, have made winning a priority in the city.
As the Patriots season ended Sunday, many Boston fans wondered two things; 1) When do the Stanley Cup Playoffs start? And 2) How long until pitchers and catchers report?
But lost in all the hoopla of the B’s and Sox are this year’s Celtics. The Celts are 15-30 on the season, but have been a very entertaining team to watch.
Ok, there isn’t a real reason to get overly excited for a team that won’t crack .500 this season. But Boston fans, who question turning the channel to watch the Green, should give them a chance. You literally don’t know what you are going to get from this team night after night, with one exception. You’re going to get a team that works its tail off every game, even with a lack of superstar talent. The Celts are a team that when they take the floor each night, don’t have a go-to guy as they did with Paul Pierce for the past 15 years.
What they do have are guys that know they belong in this league, and are determined to prove it. Kris Humphries came to Boston with an unenthusiastic look on his face during his introductory press conference during the summer, but admitted this week he would like to stay with the Celtics long term. Sure, Humphries won’t come close to making the $12 million he makes this season, but what’s to say 6 or 7 million per year wouldn’t get the ball rolling? Humphries would be the ideal big man off a contender’s bench. Humphries' game isn't pretty, but what he does do, is work hard on the glass, on both ends, giving constant effort every night.
You also have an undrafted point guard, Phil Pressey, who looks like someone who wouldn’t be your first pick in a YMCA pick-up game. Pressey is listed at 5'11" tall, but even that could be a stretch. But the New England native has shown Celts fans that he belongs in the NBA. It helps when you go for a career-high 20 points like he did Wednesday night, but Pressey has shown consistency in the brief minutes he has been playing. He has made a legitimate case to be the team’s backup point guard. He does make mistakes, but at times his passing skills remind you of something you used to see from old Sacramento Kings guard Jason Williams. Pressey certainly has a knack for the flash, but he also understands his role as a backup point guard.
Another reason to watch this team is its coach. Brad Stevens, like Pressey, has made mistakes in his rookie campaign, but he has his team buying into his philosophy, even when the wins aren't piling up. A great example of this was evident on Wednesday night. The Celts beat the Washington Wizards, on the road, in overtime. The win wasn’t exactly a historical one for the franchise, but it snapped a 10-game losing streak on the road, and that’s not even the biggest story. Because of injuries, the Celts only had one real point guard, Pressey, who fouled out in the 4th quarter. They played Chris Johnson, a D-leaguer playing in his second game, 29 crucial minutes. In addition, they played another D-leaguer, Vander Blue, who signed with the Celts, the morning of Wednesday's game.
The C’s also blew a 19-point lead and could have easily folded down the stretch on the second night of a back to back, but they didn’t, and that is a testament to their coach.
Even Gerald Wallace, who has been outspoken about his unhappiness in Boston, came to play Wednesday night, hitting the game winning shot in overtime. Wallace, running the point in overtime with Pressey on the bench, went coast to coast for a layup with under two seconds remaining in the game to give the Celts the win. The fact that Wallace was the primary ball handler shows how little backcourt depth the Celts had in the game. With all of Wallace’s negativity, he still plays hard every game, even if it's ugly, which is even more evidence that the veterans also believe in their coach.
Watch a C’s game and you’ll also see the smooth play of Jeff Green (ok, well, once in a while). But when Green has it going, his game is one of the prettiest in the league to watch. Avery Bradley, who is currently injured, is another reason to keep an eye on this basketball team. Bradley is one of the best defenders in the league, and has an improving offensive game. You will also be pleasantly surprised with Jared Sullinger, who is a throwback to the players of the 80s. Sullinger brings a sense of toughness and grit which is missing from today’s NBA.
And if none of that really will encourage you to watch the Celts, do it for Rajon Rondo. A guy who returned to a mediocre team, less than a year after suffering a knee injury that has kept some athletes out of the game for nearly two years. Rondo could easily have done his rehab work away from the cameras and the team. Instead he practiced and traveled with the team while he continued his rehab. Rondo has clearly bought into being the man in Boston, even being the named the team's captain earlier in the week.
These are just a few reasons why you should keep an eye on the Celts. Their games are enjoyable, entertaining, and proof that the "Celtic way" still lives on. If these reasons aren’t enough to watch the games at least do it to listen to the insane antics of Tommy Heinsohn.