By: Joey Willow (Twitter: @ApollanRise)
Brad Stevens has given the Boston Celtics a facelift…again
Banner 18 has been somewhat of a sticking point for the Boston Celtics and their fans since the magical IT-led playoffs run in the 2016-17 season, which fell short of glory in a brutal Eastern Conference Finals loss thanks to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though the Celtics fell short of reaching the Finals that year, the fact that they had made it so far with such a ragtag group and a PG the height of an average American male gave Celtics fans a newfound hope after losing the Big Three. The next year, IT was traded away because of a nagging hip problem that would cause him to never be the same. This left the Celtics completely retooled. Danny Ainge was still the GMwho made some moves that looked to be genius at the time.
Of course, those of us in the NBA world, and especially in the Celtics sphere that have rehashed the chronicles of the Kyrie Irving-led superteam that never was, thanks in part to gravity having its way with Gordon Hayward to begin that fabled 2017-18 season. The Celtics fell short once again, despite getting two games closer that time around.
With that being said, the hunger and urgency for Banner number 18 only grew stronger and stronger by the day. Rising leader Marcus Smart, rookie Jayson Tatum, and an improving Jaylen Brown were making their case as a strong, homegrown core that was only a bona fide veteran superstar or two away from owning the Eastern Conference for years to come. As we found out, it didn’t turn out that way with the duo of GM Danny Ainge and Coach Brad Stevens leading the C’s
Now, fast forward to present day. Yesterday could potentially end up being a day that will be remembered forever in the illustrious history of the Boston Celtics franchise.
Two weeks removed from their devastating collapse versus Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, recently ascended GM Brad Stevens is already on the prowl for talent that can immediately improve the depth and scoring of the team.
In consecutive bombshell moves, the Celtics traded Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, and a few other pieces of cannon fodder to the Indiana Pacers for former Rookie of the Year guard, Malcolm Brogdon. The Celtics also snagged solid veteran wing and former Hawk Danilo Gallinari on a two year deal.
The Celtics core is here to stay, and they finally got through the ECF checkpoint they had been struggling to surpass for years. Now, with a dazzling young head coach in Ime Udoka, it seems like Brad Stevens is feeling the urgency for Banner 18 that Celtics fans have been strongly desiring the last five years. The acquisitions of two career 15ppg players that can make plays and create their own opportunities will now unlock the next thing these Celtics need to make it all the way to a ring: rest.
It was apparent in the Eastern Finals against Miami that the Celtics were running ragged. It was abundantly clear and ultimately fatal against the well-rested Warriors in the Finals that the Celtics’ starters were completely out of gas. Down the stretch of this past season, the Celtics predominantly ran 7 or 8 man rotations, with the core players getting minimal rest in the latter half of the year, and none at all in the postseason. Some chalk this up to being a mistake on the part of Coach Ime, but it was obvious from the little bit of playing time the deep bench guys got that they simply could not be trusted to produce or provide much benefit to the team. This lack of truly viable depth pieces has been a recurring issue for the Celtics for several years now, and it didn’t help that the core wasn’t yet stable and the team was getting a new star point guard every year, only for them to quickly wash out. Unlike in years past, the core has stabilized, and now Brad Stevens has seen the chance to lay his foot down more firmly on the gas pedal.
Also, Brogdon and Gallinari are two experienced and solid NBA players that could start on a number of teams. The Celtics will likely be employing them to lead the second unit with Derrick White and allow for starters to play a less obscene number of minutes every night. Just imagine…what could the Celtics have looked like if all of their starters could play 5 to 10 minutes fewer every night down the second half push of this past season? Fortunately for Celtics fans, we will find out in just a few months exactly how valuable it can be to the team. It’s been a long and desolate search for playmaking point guard depth and legitimate NBA player wing depth (looking at you, Nesmith). The NBA offseason is long and full of chaos, and though it has only begun, it seems that Brad Stevens and the Celtics don’t have much searching left to do for the missing keys towards Banner 18.
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