The Boston Celtics finished the 2016-17 NBA regular season with 53 wins, good for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Yes, you read that correctly. The Celtics won more games than the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, the playoffs is where it counts. While the Celtics were finally able to get out of the first round, the Cavs were the team to put the nail in the coffin. But Celtics fans believe that the addition of Paul George will change their fate for next season.
George is an All-Star player but Boston does not need his services to win a ring.
The Golden State Warriors added Kevin Durant last offseason and they became the favorite to win the championship. But would they have been the favorite without Durant? Yes. They were still the same Warriors team who won 73 games the prior season and lost a classic 7-game series against the Cavs after beating them a year earlier. Much like the Warriors, the Celtics are loaded and will begin the 2017 season with a chip on their shoulder.
The Celtics feel they would’ve had a shot at a Finals appearance had it not been for the injury to Isiah Thomas. When Thomas went down so did the Celtics chances. However, the Celtics showed they are much more than Thomas and his 30 points per game.
So why all the talk of George is the missing piece?
This is what happens when it’s rumored that a star player is on the market. But the Celtics should be in no rush to destroy chemistry for a BIG player. What makes the Celtics and teams like the San Antonio Spurs so good– is that everyone has a role to play.
Thomas is the heart of the team– the scorer and the leader. Avery Bradley is the defensive crutch they lean on when a top offensive backcourt opponent goes off. Jae Crowder has taken criticism over the years for not being a consistent scorer but does he really need to be? Crowder averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds in 2017 and while George will be an upgrade, Crowder fits within the Celtics system. Al Horford is the rock in the middle. But it’s their production at PF where the Celtics could use a little help.
Maybe that was addressed with their selection of Jayson Tatum in the NBA Draft. If the Celtics are willing to slide Tatum and his 6-8 frame into the post that will allow more space for the Celtics scorers to operate and open up more fast break opportunities. Another route the Celtics could go in is signing Blake Griffin or Nerlens Noel. If they don’t wish to spend the money necessary, there is also the option of starting Kelly Olynyk.
As good as George is– what else can he add to the Celtics? The Celtis ranked 7th in the NBA in scoring last season, top 5 in assists, however, it’s their rebounding that hurt them. George is not the player to help them in that area. Noel, Griffin or Kevin Love will be a better fit. But seeing the likes of LeBron James and Durant make an offensive statement in the playoffs had Boston fans looking for their own scoring wing player. No need. The team is built to do what it did last season– win.
There is no need to mess with the chemistry and bring in a player who’s used to being the MAN when you already have those in Thomas and Horford. Winning is not always about the name on the back. It’s about the name on the front. “Celtics” stand for more than a team with the best Free Agent or Trade pickups. It’s a tradition of making the right moves at the right time to benefit the team’s success over the long haul– not a quick fix like the rest of the teams in the NBA.
You might not see it now but in a year or two when the Celtics are holding that championship trophy without George then you will understand this article and what Danny Ainge is doing.