The Boston Celtics will have to figure out how to deal with real expectations next season
The Boston Celtics are finally reaching the culmination of one of the quickest rebuilds in recent memory. The Celtics have gone through transformations every single season, and they are finally at a point where they are expected to compete for a championship.
In fact, they are at a point where simply making the Finals may not even be enough to meet expectations. The Celtics need to prove that they are able to compete with any team in the league, and they have the talent to do that.
The worry is that the Celtics are going to be in a very different position, and there are some questions about how they might deal with those exceptions.
First of all, you have to look at the players. Every single year this team has gone into the playoffs, they have been playing with house money. They have either met or blown by any expectations. They have flourished as the underdogs, and have caught a lot of teams off guard.
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This season, that will not happen. Teams will always be preparing for their absolute best against them, and nobody will take them off guard. Perhaps the Celtics will start taking things for granted, and then they will be the ones caught off guard.
The Celtics need to make sure they play with the same edge as when they were underdogs, and that should not be a problem. These players have never had motivation problems, and nobody has been known to assume anything will be given to them.
The team is quite different, so they still have to prove it. That being said, this Celtics team has shown no signs of having any of these mental problems, and it will be exciting to see them deal with championship expectations.
If, however, they do not meet the expectations, and struggle more than people expected the next question is with Danny Ainge. Ainge has always been patient and had the future in mind, but there could be a different approach this season.
If Ainge does not like what he sees, it will be more difficult to be patient with what should be a finished product. The Celtics need continuity, and that will only happen if Ainge does not panic. If he does, he might make moves at the deadline that could threaten things, and send this rebuild backwards.
The added expectations could change Ainge’s approach a bit, but it will still be important for him to make sure he gives these players the opportunities and the time they need. If he does that, expectations should not be a concern at all.
The last man you need to look to is also the one that will give you the most confidence. Brad Stevens is in uncharted territories, and he needs to prove he can get as much out of his top talent as he did out of lower talent.
Stevens should be able to do something special this season, and he will be facing as much scrutiny as anyone if they are struggling. When you consider Stevens might be the most level headed coach in the NBA, who wants nothing to do with any outside talk or expectations, he is exactly the man they want to be leading this young group with crazy expectations.