This summer, Danny Ainge blew up the Boston Celtics. He traded Doc Rivers away to the Los Angeles Clippers, and then followed that up by dealing Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry over to the Brooklyn Nets.
The trade with the Nets brought MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans and Kris Humphries over to Boston. The Celtics also drafted Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga and hired Butler coach Brad Stevens. After all the moves that took place, many sports analysts have predicted the demise of the Celtics, and that they would finish as one of the worst teams in the NBA, and that they were tanking to try and get future potential NBA star Andrew Wiggins.
Well, I’m here to say hold off on all that because despite what people say, the Celtics will be just fine and will surprise a lot of people this season. Think about this, the Eastern Conference is far weaker then the Western Conference. A team can win 38 games and still get into the playoffs with the seventh or eighth seed.
Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks got in with just 38 wins, and the year before that, the conference was even weaker. The Philadelphia 76ers were the eighth seed with just 35 wins, and the Atlanta Hawks finished with the fifth seed by winning 40 games. So, there is the proof. In the East, the sky is the limit for teams under .500 to get into the playoffs.
Looking ahead to this season, there are four definite contenders in the conference, the Miami Heat, Nets, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls. They are all locks to be the top-four seeds in the playoffs, but not necessarily in that order.
It is very possible for the Celtics to finish anywhere between the fifth and eighth seed, but don’t expect them to come into the season and just tank. The Celtics have already tried the tanking method when they were positioning themselves to get Tim Duncan in the draft, but that didn’t happen, and instead Duncan went to the San Antonio Spurs. Then the Celtics tried again, as they were one of the worst teams in the NBA and were in position to get either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden, but that didn’t happen, either. So, tanking to get the No. 1 draft pick doesn’t always work.
Now, taking a look at the roster that everyone seems to look at and quickly say that Boston got a bunch of scrap heap in return for two Hall of Fame players. Humphries has proven that he can play in this league. Kim Kardashian media circus aside, Humphries has been a double-digit rebounder in two of the last three seasons, and that’s something the Celtics desperately need as they have been a bad rebounding team the past couple of years. Humphries’ scoring took a tumble last year, as he fell out favor with P.J. Carlesimo when he took over the Nets when Avery Johnson was fired, but that will get back up to the double digits as he will have plenty of minutes to work in Stevens’ new offensive system.
Wallace, a player who has been traded just about every season the past few years, and could very well be traded before I finish this article, but despite that he has been a proven defensive player and good rebounder. With the nickname “Crash,” Wallace has shown he has no problem going after the tough rebounds or putting his body on the line to extend a play. Wallace will be a great defensive asset paired together with defensive stud Avery Bradley.
Brooks, who was originally drafted by the Celtics has the potential to be a great scorer off the bench, will fill another void the Celtics have desperately been looking for. Also, he will be able to split time with Avery at the point guard position should Stevens need him to.
The Celtics did get some talent in return from the Nets; it may not be what people wanted, but the trade can work out for both teams. The Celtics still have Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and Bradley to mix in with all the new players until Rajon Rondo returns from his ACL injury.
Don’t expect the Celtics to just go into the season waving the white flag. This is still a good basketball team capable of fighting for a playoff spot even if it is for a lower seed.