The Best Move For The Boston Celtics Is No Move


After Friday’s loss to the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics are 16-29. They’re three and a half games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And after General Manager Danny Ainge’s recent firesale, the new parts are beginning to mesh with what was already in place.

This was evident during the Celtics recent west coast road trip, one which they finished 3-3 but displayed tremendous resiliency throughout. Boston started off the trip in Los Angeles, where it could have easily packed it in when faced with a 23-point deficit. Instead, it gave the Clippers, a top-five team in the Western Conference, all that it could handle and even cut the lead down to three with under four minutes to go, before ultimately falling short.

Three days later, the Celtics were in Portland for a showdown against the Blazers, who like the Clippers, are 32-15 and are tied for the fifth-best record in the NBA. Late game execution has been a major struggle for Boston this season, but thanks to Evan Turner, the team did more than just compete against Portland, it knocked off one of the best teams in the NBA, in its own building.

The Celtics new found ability to finish out games was once again on display the very next night against Denver. The Nuggets had the lead with less than a 1:30 remaining when Avery Bradley put the C’s on his back. Boston’s shooting guard nailed a three and then a jumper to propel the team to a 100-99 victory.

Two nights later, the green and white were in Oakland for a match up against the Warriors, who at the time had the best record in the NBA. Combine that with the fact that this was the Celtics third game in four nights and that they had just earned two hard fought wins, and they could have easily taken the night off. After all, they did have a game the very next night against Utah, who Boston would figure to have an easier time against.

But just as they have all season, Brad Stevens’ team competed. The Celtics held Stephen Curry to 1-5 shooting from beyond the arc and overall Golden State shot just 34.8 percent from three.

Even when the Warriors had a ten-point lead with 36.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter Boston refused to give in. The Celtics came roaring back and forced Golden State to close the game out. Of course, the Dubs are a lot better than the Celtics right now, so this task was no problem for them, as they ultimately held on to win 114-111.

The next night against Utah, Tayshaun Prince turned back the clock, playing a team-high 30 minutes and finishing with a team-best 19 points. The 12-year veteran also tied for a game-high five assists. The Celtics, led by their newest acquisition, went on to beat the Jazz, 99-90.

Boston’s cohesion was even on display in its most recent loss, which came on its own court, against the Rockets, who possess the fourth-best record in the league.

Houston took an 18-point lead into the locker room at halftime but the Celtics clamped down in the second half, holding the Rockets to 4-20 shooting in the third quarter. James Harden scored just three-points in the second half and shot a putrid 1-8, per Late in the fourth quarter, Boston went on a 6-0 run that cut Houston’s lead down to three, before Kevin McHale’s team ultimately prevailed.

Despite the loss, the resilient Celtics have plenty going for them. They have a deep roster with quality depth and a nice blend of promising young players and proven veterans. Regardless of opponent and whether it is playing at home or on the road, Boston has made practically every game a competitive one. If you’re going to beat the Celtics you’re going to have to earn it.

Currently, Boston is roughly $12 million under the luxury-tax line. Three of the team’s five highest paid players, Prince, Marcus Thornton and Brandon Bass are free agents at the end of the season. The Celtics not only figure to have an ample amount of cap space but also have a treasure trove of draft picks and trade exceptions.

Ainge has plenty to work with but for now, it is best to let the team grow organically.