The Celtics are the fourth-best team in the NBA. It seems impossible to believe, I know.
This is the same team that has not won a playoff series since the NBA Lockout in the 2011-12 season. Avery Bradley is the only player on this year’s Celtics roster that was on the team four years ago.
Since Brad Stevens took over in the summer of 2013, the team has won 88 games. The only notable addition the Celtics made after getting 48 wins and getting eliminated from the playoffs last season was Al Horford.
I’m a writer, not a mathematician, but the numbers just don’t add up. On paper it seems incomprehensible that the Celtics are projected to have the fourth most wins in the NBA and the second best odds to represent the East in the NBA Finals.
In theory this team should still be in the rebuilding process with Brad Stevens, one of the brightest young coaches in the league. There are few bigger supporters of the 40-year-old Stevens than I am, but to be fair, the team still hasn’t accomplished anything significant since Doc Rivers and the Big Three left.
This indictment is not on the Celtics’ chances of meeting expectations this season, but rather a critique on the diminishing parody in the NBA.
The league has become way too predictable. The regular season is played out as just a formality because if you are looking for close meaningful games that will impact who will win the NBA Finals, you won’t find them until late May. Come summer, the Cavs and the Warriors appear destined to meet in the Finals for the third year in a row.
Amidst all the negativity about the league, I think the Celtics are in a great position in the East. They went from an old team with expiring contracts and a bleak future to arguably the most promising young organization in the league.
The need for a superstar to win the NBA Finals is paramount, and without one you simply can’t be a serious contender to win it all. Boston, unfortunately, is one piece short from being able to give the Cavs a run for their money in the playoffs.
While I think this superstar-driven mantra is a major flaw for the league because it takes out the suspense of an upset and an underdog, the Celtics are doing a great job of building a team that fits the NBA mold of winning a title.
Although still very young, Brad Stevens is a brilliant basketball mind that has the brightest future of any unproven coach in the league. Additionally, the Celtics play an entertaining and selfless brand of basketball. The last two seasons they have been a great product to follow because the potential is there.
This summer the Celtics were in the discussion as a landing spot for superstar Kevin Durant. Though the former MVP chose Golden State over Boston, the Celtics are putting themselves back on the market as an option for big-time free agents.
Instead, they settled for Al Horford who will be another good piece that will help Boston improve this year, especially down low.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics general manager, is constantly looking to make improvements to get the team competitive for the upcoming season, but Ainge’s only true priority is to bring another banner to the TD Garden rafters.
Ever since Ainge traded Pierce and Garnett, he has only made moves that have helped this team build for the future. They have not signed players to any bad contracts, while still acquiring pieces that make this not only a better basketball team, but more importantly an enticing destination for one of the premier scorers in the NBA.
So much of the NBA is building for the future, and although I give the Celtics no real chance to win the NBA title this year, they should be good enough to win a round or two in the playoffs. This is a very realistic and attainable goal for this team, and by doing that, the Celtics continue to market themselves as a competitive team that can win an NBA title.
Patience is the key this year as a Celtics fan. If you can trust Danny Ainge and his plan, there will be championship-level basketball back in Boston down the road, but in the meantime, the only relevant teams are the Spurs, Cavs and Warriors.