Tuesday, April 14, 2015
As a life long Celtics fan of course I'm biased towards the green and white. When Doc RIvers left town I never thought that Danny Ainge could have had the next coach waiting in the wings the way he did with Brad Stevens. After countless transactions, including trading away all the lasting links to the 2008 championship and acquiring new faces and more draft picks than one can keep track of during any sort of basketball conversation, Brad Stevens has lead these new look Celtics to the playoffs. Yes, the playoffs. While Stevens deserves much of the praise along with Danny Ainge, this very unique group of players is one you should take a look at. The togetherness, passion and execution on both ends of the court are quite apparent. Stevens has meshed together the right rotations, been brilliant in late game situations and has these Celtics playing hard. In case you are not familiar with the playoff bound 2015 Celtics here are some quick Jack Bauer like bullet points of interest on their backcourt, which has been a huge key to their recent success:
Marcus Smart - fearless rookie combo guard that can play both back court positions at both ends. Smart plays his ass off, has an evolving perimeter game and can also change the game without scoring a point. Plain and simple he's a bulldog and Ainge was spot on in drafting him 6th overall in 2014 even with Rondo, then, still in the picture.
Avery Bradley - he was considered overpaid when signing a 4-year $32 million contract extension. Now he's most definitely underpaid. A top 5 on ball perimeter defender in the league, with one of the most consistent mid range jumpers in the east, Bradley has been key to this second half Celtics run to the playoffs. Remember he was on the 2012 team that was one game from the finals, though he couldn't play in the conference finals against the Heat due to multiple shoulder injuries. What could have been.
Evan Turner - left for dead after being traded to the Pacers last year from the Sixers, the Celtics stole Turner from the free agent market as he has been a consistent and versatile player as he has played both backcourt positions and small forward this season. Three triple doubles since the all-star break for a guy labeled a "bust" less than a year ago isn't bad. Goes to show, right place, right time, right coach, well, you get the right results.
Isaiah Thomas - so when that crazy four-team deal went down at the trade deadline and Thomas ended up with the Celtics, I was stunned. First off, I've never been a fan of undersized scoring point guards. Second, his name is Isaiah Thomas. This couldn't be happening. I can't root for a guy with this name, no way, no chance. Guess what. I love him. He is the perfect 6th man for this team as Stevens brings him off the bench for Smart or Bradley depending on the situation. He plays extremely hard, is one of the toughest pick 'n roll guys to guard in the league, is a much better distributor than I ever imagined he'd be and he can flat out score the shit out of the basketball.
I'll be back tomorrow with the Celtics frontcourt. Playoffs here we come.