In the first part of the season, it has been quite clear that this team needed some adjusting with the addition of Hayward and other pieces which we did not have during the playoffs. This Celtics team will look to make yet another deep playoff run, and some changes will need to be made.
Record: 37-21 (4th in East)
Important games coming up:
Celtics at Bucks (02/21):
This may be the most important game coming up. This will certainly be a test for the Celtics. As well as being the first game back from the break, we will play the best team in the NBA (record-wise). The series is tied 1-1 right now, with both games being played at TD Garden. The Bucks, who have only lost 14 games, have proven to be dominant while being led by Giannis. A win here will prove to the team and fans that this Celtics team is for real.
Celtics at Raptors (02/26):
The Celtics will be hit with another test just days after the Bucks game. This Raptors team is arguably playing like the best team in the league right now. Kawhi is playing at an MVP level. They have an elite guard in Lowry, the most improved player in Siakam, and a solid coaching staff. The Celtics will play in Toronto with the season series tied 1-1 and the home team in both cases.
Celtics at Warriors (03/05):
The Celtics are definitely in both a tough few games after the break. We will play the Warriors for the second time of the season. It’s the Warriors. Obviously it’s going to be a big game. We lost the first game against them this season when we couldn’t get a rebound on a missed free throw. Remember? This is definitely a game we can win if our team can stay focused and not let the environment get to them.
Celtics at Sixers (03/20):
So, basically all of the big games coming up are away games for Boston. We lead the series 3-0, but the Sixers had their new players in the most recent game, when we won by three. The Celtics have proven time and time again that we are the better team, however, as of the all-star break, we are tied with the Sixers in the standings. Looking forward, this game could influence where we stand in the playoffs.
Pacers at Celtics (03/29) and Celtics at Pacers (04/05):
I am just interested by these games. The Pacers are 1 game ahead of the Celtics in the standings right after the all-star break. After losing Oladipo, they lost 4 games in a row, then went on a six game win streak, only losing to the Bucks after. This team has proven to be formidable, but they are also a team that the Celtics can pass in the standings. Hopefully.
Headlines to look out for:
The bigs need to step up:
Horford, Theis, Baynes, and Williams are this team’s true big men. Injuries have prevented our big men from getting a lot of playing, making Boston a smaller team than it already is. Horford has had lingering knee problems and has had a mediocre season. He’s a real asset to this team with the leadership he brings, but compared to how he could be playing, improvement can be made. The consistency that we have relied on for much of last year is no longer there, but this is just a phase. Theis has had his fair share of struggles this season, but he will comeback with fire. Baynes’s injuries hurt this team significantly, especially on the boards and defensive side, but he has been giving consistent play recently. Robert Williams is a ray of light for Boston. He became a fan favorite overnight, and his lack of minutes is frustrating for fans because he consistently makes great plays. Hopefully, Brad will see that the rookie needs more minutes.
Is Hayward back?
Hayward is playing well. Don’t deny it. Is he back? No. It will likely take more time for him to be the Gordon we expected him on the day of the trade. But, regardless, he is putting up numbers. He has had a strong start to February after putting up double digit points in 4 out of the 6 games. In the past five games, he’s averaging 17 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 61% shooting. February has been his best month by far, and hopefully he can continue to trend up.
Is the passion there for Boston?
Effort and passion for the game has been a problem for the Celtics this season. Issues around chemistry and lack of effort have led many to believe that Boston is incapable of being a winning team. Some have pointed at Kyrie’s leadership, and some of the words taken from regarding the team.
“We have a bunch of young men in our locker room who feel they’re capable of doing a lot more than they’re doing.”
Marcus Morris has also talked about the team.
“We don’t have no attitude. We don’t have no toughness. We ain’t having fun. It’s going to be a long season,”
“I watch all these other teams around the league and guys are up on the bench, they’re jumping on the court, they’re doing all other stuff that looks like they’re enjoying their teammates’ success. They’re enjoying everything and they’re playing together and they’re playing to win. And when I look at us, I just see a bunch of individuals,”
“The goal has to be to win. Bottom line.”
What Kyrie has said is not necessarily bad. What the fans and media need to see is what kind of leader Kyrie has been. We have not seen comments from other Celtics players regarding Kyrie.
What Morris said was worrisome. In order for the Celtics to have that championship season, they need to have the chemistry and fun of being on a team together all season. Hopefully the fun will increase, but we need to see it soon.
The bottom line is that this Celtics team is evolving and changing throughout the season. While the results we are seeing are not optimal, there is a process (bad choice of wording with “process”) to creating a championship team, and the Celtics are getting there. It will take time.