By Harry Dunne
The Celtics are hot. Winners of four, their only four, straight games, they now sit atop the Atlantic Division. In any other era, this would be exciting news, but unfortunately this year; winning is bad for business.
Saturday night we witnessed what may turn out to be the best finish to an NBA game this season in the Celtics upset of the defending champs, the Miami Heat. With 0.6 seconds, Jeff Green took the inbound pass--just beyond the reach of LeBron James--and knocked down the catch-and-shoot three pointer to end the game on Miami's home court. The victory, their third, was a wake up call to the rest of the league, who had dismissed Boston as a weak former contender.
Why This Is Bad
The worst outcome for an NBA team is mediocrity. The way the NBA works; good teams can stay good, and bad teams can become good... middle-of-the-road teams, get run over. This Celtics squad may rattle off a few victories, may raise some hopes, but let's recognize the reality; this team cannot compete with the league's elite.
The Celtics are supposed to be in "tank-mode." With nine first round picks over the next five seasons, Boston is poised to snag some of the most talented players in upcoming drafts. Sure, many of those picks hinge on the outcomes for other teams' seasons, but they still control all of their own picks during that stretch.
More importantly, the core of this team is very young. Jeff Green (27), Rajon Rondo (27), Jared Sullinger (21), and Avery Bradley (22) represent the future of this team. If GM Danny Ainge is smart, he will exercise patience and not try to mortgage the future for a short-term run. Pulling a trade to bring in more veterans by forfeiting draft picks and moving any of their youthful core would be a disservice to the franchise and its fans.
Though it is to their own detriment, watching the successes from this team of has-beens and nobodies is extremely entertaining. Jeff Green has established himself as a leader, Jordan Crawford has been a reliable option off the bench, and Kelly Olynyk has shown surprising defensive p as a rookie. The most interesting facet of the Celtics squad is how well they have spread out the opportunities. They don't have a scoring option, they have many. They don't have a dominant rebounder, but they have four.
All-in-all, this squad is playing like a college team... a really good one.
Brad Stevens has been earning his paycheck.
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