Last night, Boston Celtics fans witnessed the torch being passed down to the next generation of players. This is still Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s team, but Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox proved that when the veterans retire, the Celtics future will be in good hands. There have been a lot of questions surrounding the team and what they’ll do when the Big Three era comes to a close, but after last night, fans may have gotten their answer.
Green had a career night scoring 43 points, 26 in the first half alone. This wasn’t against the Charlotte Bobcats or New Orleans Hornets, it was the red hot Miami Heat who are now on a 23 game winning streak. He was a big part of Boston’s 17 point lead in the first half, and when it came to crunch time, he came through with clutch baskets. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but after last night, we witnessed the emergence of Jeff Green, and not just as a good player, but as a franchise player. What he did against Miami was Paul Pierce-like and something that fans haven’t seen from a Celtics player in quite a while. LeBron James had trouble stopping him, and the Heat’s defense couldn’t contain him which lead to Green’s offensive explosion. Last night summed up what Green has done the last two months.
Avery Bradley was sensational against Miami. While he did miss some easy shots throughout the game, his defensive presence was huge. When looking for future franchise players, it’s best to see how they play against championship caliber teams in big games. Bradley is definitely a keeper, and that is stating the obvious, but his defense and hustle showed the heart and soul that is within him. His poise during the game was veteran-like, wasn’t rattled by facing some of the greatest players in the game today, and quite frankly, I think he enjoys the challenge of going up against good teams and players.
Courtney Lee, Chris Wilcox, and Brandon Bass all stepped up in their own way. Lee’s defense last night certainly was overlooked as he had the job of covering Dwyane Wade. Wade only scored 16 points, and Lee was a factor in his performance. Lee also made clutch baskets down the stretch, taking the ball to the rim, and not forcing shots that weren’t there.
Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox played exceptional defense against both LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Within the last two weeks Bass and Wilcox have really come up big for Boston, and their inside presence has shown. Bass was struggling earlier on in the season, but he’s found his place on the team by being aggressive and grabbing offensive rebounds. Wilcox is playing no different than he did last year before he had heart surgery. His ability to run the floor and get out on the fast break makes him an important piece on the team if the Celtics decide to run the up-tempo offense. His defense is also underrated as he does very well when he gets posted up. They may be undersized, but you cannot measure Bass and Wilcox’s determination and will.
In the upcoming seasons the Celtics will be going through a transition period. It may be starting right now. Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox were major contributors for Boston last night. We will have to wait and see, but in a year or two, we may look back on last night’s game as the beginning of a new era for the Boston Celtics.