The end of the Celtics’ season begs the question: Was this year a failure?
Fans and analysts will give you different answers. Some will say that this year was a failure because the East was wide open and they only had to beat the Heat to get to the Finals. Others might bring up how the Celtics were not expected to finish much higher than the second round entering the season. In this strange case, the truth lies in both arguments.
Celtics fans are getting pretty sick and tired of hearing the same thing at the end of every year, “The future is bright in Boston.“ Or, “This is still a young team.” Frankly, this team showed that its success is not relegated to five years down the line. They are contenders now. Most of the “Elite” teams have a pair of All-Stars and the Celtics certainly have a strong pairing in Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Jaylen Brown was on the cusp last season as well. Throw in a well-rounded wing like Gordon Hayward and the machine that is Marcus Smart, it’s a talented group of five. Everyone had questions pertaining to the bench and the big man spot.
Despite those problems they claimed the three seed, swept a dysfunctional 76ers team, and outlasted the defending champion Toronto Raptors. And all that was left in their way was the five-seeded Miami Heat. The fans who will chalk this season up a failure will view it as such. Those fans are not completely off, if Boston beat the Heat then they would have been in the Finals. But that does seem to neglect the fact that the Heat are a really good team. They have championship experience with Erik Spoelstra, Andre Iguodala, and Udonis Haslem. The talent is certainly there with their fearless leader Jimmy Butler and all-around center Bam Adebayo.
The Celtics did play well in the series but failed to close out the games. Adebayo proved to be too much in the post and the pick and roll. The Heat also had the luxury of a stable rotation and received big games from Iguodala and rookie Tyler Herro. The final eight or so minutes in Game 6 were painful as the Heat went on a 24-6 run en route to claiming the series. The shot selection, effort, and decision making in whole absolutely warrant scrutiny, especially in crunch time.
Despite all the negatives it is annoying but fair to fall back on the cushion that this is a young team. They had seven players of the 17-man roster playing their first season in the NBA. Only Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, and Brad Wanamaker are over 30 years old. Grant and Rob Williams both look like potential studs, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Romeo Langford also looked like a strong defensive presence with a raw offensive game, although he was hampered by injuries. This was great, fun to watch, and definitely provided plenty of hope for the franchise’s future.
The Celtics will certainly have a sour taste in their mouth for the coming months and they absolutely deserve it. They could have made it to the NBA Finals if they had stayed together and made the big plays when they needed to. But the truth is still the boring fact that they are young and on the up. With some small improvements and some development, this team could easily find their way to the NBA Finals.