For the past 2 seasons, you could sense that the Boston Celtics were a team on the rise. Despite being put out in the First Round both times, you knew a run was coming. Much like the Toronto Raptors before them, the Celtics finally made it out the First Round only to run into the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics are now getting the same treatment the Raptors got but just worse.
It doesn’t matter if the Celtics are swept or lose in Game 7. One thing seems clear– they must improve or this will be a reoccurring nightmare every season. The core of the team is a good one but that doesn’t mean there can’t be changes made. To begin with, the Celtics must find another offensive weapon and a PF that’s not afraid to play under the rim and do the grunt work. In order to do that, Danny Ainge must be bold. How bold? Bold enough to trade that No.1 pick in the NBA Draft and get a veteran presence into the lineup.
Isaiah Thomas is good and so is Al Horford but everyone else is just a role player. During the season it worked as teams could not scout the way an opponent can during the playoffs. It’s one game then off to a new city to face another team. In the playoffs, it’s the same team for at least 4 games. Yes, they did manage to get past the Chicago Bulls but remember they were down 2-0 in the series before Rajon Rondo went down with an injury. Up next was a team just as green as them in the Washington Wizards and although it went down to the wire, it showed flaws in the East’s No.1 seed.
Where the Wizards series exploited the flaws, LeBron James and the two-time Eastern Conference champs blew up the wall.
There is not a player on the Celtics that can contend with James. Jae Crowder is a good defender but he can’t force James play both ends of the floor. Brad Stevens has gone to the well one too many times by playing Gerald Green at PF, which shows how terrible the Celtics are in the post. However, all this can be fixed with one simple move in the offseason. The Celtics must take their top pick and offer it up in a trade for a player with some battle scars to match their talent.
Blake Griffin would be a possible solution to their problems as would Carmelo Anthony. However, each of those players comes with a ton of baggage. Griffin can’t stay healthy and isn’t known in NBA circles as a winner and neither is Anthony. Paul George is an option but his desire to play for the Los Angles Lakers may have Ainge thinking otherwise.
Having the No.1 pick is always good but the Celtics are not the New York Knicks or the Sacramento Kings. The Celtics are built to win now and adding a younger player will not help their cause much. Look at Jaylen Brown and the minutes he has played over the course of his rookie year. By drafting a player like Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz will add excitement, however, it also brings another player a team like the Cavs can exploit on both ends of the floor.
A veteran presence is needed if the Celtics are to avoid what the Raptors went through this year after reaching the ECF. A good team but not good enough just yet. Holding the top pick means options are available, just too bad the Celtics are not in the “Trust the Process” phase anymore. Trading their pick and a player like Avery Bradley is their best option if they are to be taken serious.
Blame it on the Cavs.