Entering the 2014-2015 NBA season, the expectations were uncharacteristically low for the Boston Celtics. Boston has a unique fan base in the way that their beloved Celtics are arguably the most successful team in NBA history.
When you consider the 17 NBA championships, 21 conference titles, 21 division titles, and 33 hall of famers, there’s not much to argue. The Celtics have long been one of the most popular teams in the league and has a fan base that not only expects a playoff appearance year in and year out, but a deep playoff run.
But this year, things weren’t as they normally are. Morale among the Celtics fan base was as low as the morale on the roster filled with trade acquisitions and young players trying to adjust to NBA life. Within the last three years, the Celtics have lost the heart and soul of the 2008 championship squad after trading away future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and losing Ray Allen to free agency to playoff rivals Miami Heat.
Apr 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett (5) and small forward Paul Pierce (34) celebrate against the New York Knicks during game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
They also lost former coach of the year Doc Rivers, and brought in a much younger and less experienced head coach Brad Stevens. To top it off, during the 2013 season, all-star point guard Rajon Rondo’s season was cut short due to a torn ACL, completely derailing the last bit of hope C’s fans had to hold onto.
Although GM Danny Ainge has made some great trades and made some solid draft selections in the midst of all of this, it’s not hard to see why Celtics faithful’s weren’t uber-excited for Boston’s 2014 campaign. With an inexperienced roster with no clear leader and a starting line that lacked the talent needed to thrive in today’s NBA; not to mention an unproven head coach leading the whole operation, things looked gloomy for Bean town.
It was clear that it was now time to rethink, regroup, and rebuild and it seemed as if the thrilling playoff runs they made just a few short years prior were something that wouldn’t be seen again for a long time.
Feb 11, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) and his teammates react after shooting the winning basket against the Atlanta Hawks in the final seconds of play at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated Atlanta 89-88. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Now here we are in April, with playoff time so close that NBA fans are drooling with anticipation, but the story lines for Boston have changed in dramatic fashion. The same writers who were headlining Celtics articles with “Time to Tank” have changed gears and are wondering “Playoffs?” And the aforementioned unproven head coach has transformed into a gritty leader that gets players to perform and find a gear they did not know they had.
While the Celtics still lack any real amount of talent, Brad Stevens has got this group to buy in to themselves and over-perform, and as improbable as it seemed, the Celtics are within reaching distance of a playoff spot.
Yes, you read that correctly, the Celtics have a real shot at being a playoff team this year. And yes, the Eastern Conference is famously weak, but regardless it’s no small feat that these Celtics could be playing post-season ball. This playoff run has been built around tenacious play and a team that has more heart and will-to-win than any Boston team in the past few years.
Acquiring offensive weapon Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline gave the team a huge boost and much-needed scoring off the bench and has directly attributed to this chance at the post season. Young guards Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley have also exceeded expectations and helped the C’s make the push. But of all contributing factors to this seasons surprise success, head coach Brad Stevens and general manager Danny Ainge take the cake in turning this team into contenders.
Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, left, and owner Wyc Grousbeck, right, listen as new Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens answers a question during a news conference announcing Stevens new position. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Between Steven’s knack for getting players to play to their full ability and Ainge’s elite abilities to make deals and acquire talent and assets, they have really got this team into a great position going forward. Going from a bottom five team in the league to a playoff contender is a big deal, and that just goes to show that you should never count out the Boston Celtics. And as long as Brad Stevens are Danny Ainge are leading the way, Celtics fans should feel secure that more success is to come!
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