The Boston Celtics finished 48-34 last season. Grabbed the 6th seed in the east (Tied for the third seed) and played a tough series against the Hawks even with Avery Bradley out of the lineup. Celtics fans were upset over losing but had high aspirations for this offseason. The Celtics have a lot of assets and many fans were just waiting to see what big moves were made. As the offseason went on, Celtic fans became increasingly annoyed. The draft came and went. As we watched the Celtics draft Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick instead of trading it(Thank God we didn’t). Where is the big trade? Where is the big signing? What is Danny Ainge doing? These were all questions that Celtics fans were asking. We all remember the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. This saw Boston bring in some of Boston’s finest to meet with Kevin Durant. The biggest surprise to me was that they even brought Tom Brady to meet with Durant. Well we all know how this tale ends. Kevin Durant didn’t sign with Boston, instead he decided to hop on the Warriors fan bus in hopes he could finally win a championship. The summer was not a complete failure though. The Celtics signed all-star big man Al Horford. He would give the Celtics something they had not had in years. A second All-Star caliber player to pair next to Isaiah Thomas. Horford could bring rim protection, floor spacing and another consistent offensive weapons. Going into the 2016-2017 campaign everyone had high hopes for the Celtics. Were they better than Golden State? The Cavaliers? No, they weren’t but they were on their way. I predicted them around 56 wins and many others expected them to easily make that jump. Well, through the first 25 games of this season the Celtics find themselves 13-12 and 5th place in the East. Not the start we wished for. As I read social media I see Celtic fans already throwing in the towel for this year. There is a huge panic among Celtics fans that has led to some uniformed talk about this team. Crowder isn’t playing well enough. Horford is making too much money. Heck after one game in Orlando people were asking if we were better without Isaiah Thomas. Let me begin by saying this team has not lived up to expectations this year. If you asked me what the Celtics record would be after 25 games before the season I would not have said 13-12. So, I am disappointed in that.
I am also disappointed with their performance on the defensive end of the floor. They currently are 16th (tied with Magic and Pacers) in the league in defensive rating with a rating of 104.7. To compare that to last year, the Celtics held a rating of 99.4 before the All-Star break (3rd best in the league). This drop-in rating is evident on the court. This team seems to be out of sync defensively and just a step slow. They aren’t making the instinctive plays that they did last year. Now although this is a big issue it is something that can easily be fixed. That fix is going to be this team getting healthy. Let’s look at how many games key contributors on this team have missed
Isaiah Thomas: 4
Al Horford: 10
Jae Crowder: 7
Marcus Smart: 3
Kelly Olynyk: 6
With such key pieces missing so much of the time, it is almost impossible for this Celtics team to be able to build chemistry. They have all the talent in the world on defense and will be a better defensive team than last year once they are completely healthy.
Let’s now move to individual players. I’m confused as why people want to blow up this roster so much. They are a team that has all the talent to be successful. Let’s take a look at the returning starters stats from last season and compare them to this season.
Isaiah Thomas 2015-2016 stats:
Isaiah Thomas 2016-2017 stats:
Thomas’s stats are almost identical to last season. We see a small decline in some areas but a huge jump in scoring. Thomas has proven this year he is one of the best point guards in the East and is capable of leading this team. Before Isaiah’s injury this team was starting to come together. Thomas is someone who is key in crunch time. He is the player the Celtics lean on to close out games so I am not surprised Boston struggled with this in his absence. With him back in the lineup the late game struggles will go away.
Avery Bradley 2015-2016 Stats:
Avery Bradley 2016-2017 stats:
Avery has improved just as much as anyone on this team. He has made a jump in scoring and a massive one in the rebounding department. You can also tell he is as confident as ever in his game on both ends. Bradley has shown us that he has great value to this team and is someone who shows up when the Celtics need him the most.
Jae Crowder 2015-2016 Stats:
Jae Crowder 2016-2017 Stats:
Ok listen Crowder has not played well so far this season. He hasn’t shown that same effort and fight that made us fall in love with him last year. With that being said the stats show us his decline may not be as steep as we have made it out to be. The guy has been hobbled with injuries so far this year and it has shown on the court. Before we all freak out let’s give him at least half the season before we decide that we don’t consider him part of our future any longer.
Al Horford 2016-2017 Stats:
Horford has given the Celtics a huge boost so far this season. He has been consistent and done a little bit of everything for them. We wish we could see more rebounds but the bottom line is that just isn’t his strong suit. Horford is finally gelling in Brad’s system and is getting better every game. I understand the frustration after he missed the game winner in Houston and some big shots late against the Thunder but it is unfair to say he hasn’t lived up to his hype so far. If he made those shots nobody would be complaining right now so let’s not overreact.
The Celtics bench:
This Celtics bench is starting to come along. The injuries the Celtics have suffered allowed this bench to showcase just how talented it is. Brown, Rozier and Smart all have shown they not only perform but that they aren’t scared of big moments. These three are going to lose minutes but that doesn’t mean they are any less important to helping this team win. They need their energy off the bench and it will complement the Celtics starters very well.
Celtic fans we all need to take a second and relax. This team has not gotten a chance to come together and gel as a unit. If this team is still struggling come the trade deadline then we can have this discussion but until then we need to give this Celtics team a chance to show us just how they can be together. Offensively they are as talented as ever and haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of how explosive they can be. The Celtics have the Hornets tonight and will have their starting lineup all healthy. The Celtics are going to showcase just how good they can be and, as long as they stay healthy, will start looking like the team we thought they’d be.