Every new season is full of challenges and unanswered questions. The 2013/14 season however, marks the real beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Boston Celtics. It defines the real end of the Big Three era, and the departure of a career Celtic in the form of Paul Pierce, who has so stolidly stood his ground all these years and held the team aloft. Team Celtics Down Under takes the opportunity to write about the thrills and hazards lying in wait for our beloved Celtics. MVP? Post-season? How far can we go, and what might happen?
While the team lost its captain and its defensive anchor during the off-season, I still think the 2013/14 Celtics are capable of a few upsets this year.
Of course I think the roster will change quite dramatically before the trade deadline, with Humphries, Wallace and Bass prime assets, Danny Ainge would be looking to offload for cap space and more draft picks.
I’m expecting big things from Rajon Rondo upon his return (whenever that may be), and I think he and Brad Stevens will have a great relationship considering a larger leadership role beckons this season. I have no doubt Rondo’s play upon return will squash all of the off-season rumours questioning his maturity and commitment to the team.
Jeff Green will continue the form we became accustomed to over the last couple of months of 2012/13, with Uncle Jeff pushing for All-Star selection and the title of the team’s leading scorer. A healthy Avery Bradley should earn All-Defensive team honours once again. I think MarShon Brooks will turn out to be the steal of the Nets-Celtics trade, while Courtney Lee will find a definitive role this season and repay the faith the organisation has shown in him.
If the Celtics can follow the path of the Rockets or Warriors from last season, I think they could sneak into the first-round of the playoffs. I believe the team in its current state has enough potential to achieve that. With so many unknowns surrounding Ainge’s desire to attain as many assets as possible, it will be interesting to see how the season unfolds as the Celtics build for a massive off-season in 12 months time.
Everything still feels slightly unreal at this point in the off-season. Not seeing Truth or Ticket on the court? The deed is done, but reality has yet to sink into the minds of many fans, including me.
Once we get past that however, one question remains. What exactly are we hoping for this season?
I would say that the excitement lies in the journey ahead, and the glimpses of potential that await us.
Is Rondo going to return to the court at 110%, stronger and better than before? Will Sullinger and Olynyk mesh together flawlessly as smart passing big men who can space the floor with their shooting? Is backup guard Phil Pressey going to impress when Rondo’s off the court?
I’m always the cautious optimist, so here’s setting the bar real low. Let the team stay healthy and build rapport under coach Stevens’ leadership. Be ready to work and grow together, and be in a position to surprise the unbelievers, when Danny pulls off yet another amazing deal. It’s not about how far we go in the postseason, it’s about how much we grow as a team. Nothing is impossible, keep believing. #Ubuntu
After 6 years with high expectations of a championship or bust mentality, it seems that the championship window has finally closed.
This season is all about rebuilding.
I can’t help to think about 2006 team in comparison to our 2013 team– a team loaded with young potential stars with one all-star. For this upcoming season, much like the 2006-2007 season, I think the Celtics’ objectives are quite clear – play the young guys, let their value grow, whilst trying to get a high draft pick-in ‘06/’07, that was from Paul Pierce being hurt-this year it could be from bringing Rondo back slowly, and let coach Stevens acclimate himself in the NBA.
From reports that are coming through about Rondo’s return date, he could miss the first 2 months of the season, which would enable the Celtics the following: enter 2014 off-season with an abundance of young players with great potential, a trade player exception worth $10.3m, salary coming off the books, 2 x 1st round picks (one of which being a lottery pick) and a 100% healthy All-Star point guard.
I think the Celtics will be both exciting and frustrating in this upcoming season, with coach Stevens having them playing exciting ball. I just think they do not have the team to ultimately be successful this year, especially with Rondo missing significant time.
I predict they go 27-55, with Danny making a HUGE splash in the next off-season.
I see season 2013/14 as a time for Brad Stevens and the players to gel. To find the right formula of, not only player combinations, but also offensive style and tempo, and to understand what type of defensive presence they will be capable of sustaining with the talent on our current roster. I don’t think we can really evaluate Brad Stevens’ potential success or failure for a few years. His analytical approach to the game already gives him a good head start. I think the largest hurdle will be the grind of 82 games, and the physical extremities of the NBA game compared to the college game, and adjustment to NBA defenses.
Winning the players over will be a litmus test for any college coach stepping up to the NBA ranks, but if recent quotes from several key Celtics players are to be believed, he’s already on his way to achieving this. I have faith in Brad Stevens’ drive and potential. On a scale of 1-10, I would currently rank him 7-8.
On the players.
I hope I don’t see Rondo back in the game before December. To me, it makes no sense whatsoever to have Rondo back for the start of the season. What will it achieve aside from the potential to possibly aggravate his recent surgery, and set him back?
If Rondo is to be our Captain and leader for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure he is 100%, physically before he is back on the court. We need foresight here, and to look at the big picture, which is the next few years, not just this season. I highly doubt Rondo will be any worse. He may lose some foot speed as a result of his ACL injury. However, his IQ, and his extremely high skill-set will still be there, if not improved upon, and this recent setback will strengthen his resolve like nothing else. Improvements in positional defence free throws, and exterior shot would make him an absolute nightmare for the opposition.
If you are wondering about Jeff Green, he is for real. The guy is talent personified. But the main reason I believe in him so much is his state of mind. What he has been through over the last 14 months would cripple most people. Jeff has risen like a Phoenix from the Fires of heart surgery, and piece by piece he has shown the NBA that he is not to be dismissed. Just take a look at his highlight reel from last year. Half of that was accomplished whilst still not full recovered from heart surgery. Now we have a 100% healthy Jeff Green? I want to see Robert Downey Jnr court side at the TD Garden next season, so he can see who the real Iron Man is. Lethal 3 point shot, incredible first step and drive, thunderous dunks, a constant danger on the fast break, shot-blocker. If Green works on some post-up play, mid range jumper, and shot creation? Start getting his All-Star jersey ready.
Suit up Jeff. Iron Man is needed.
On to our defensive-minded stalwart. Avery Bradley is a unique talent, and I was somewhat mortified to seed him forced to play out of position last season. It was obvious that his offensive play suffered because of it. We still saw the ‘Pitbull’ side of Avery, suffocating opposing Point Guards into turning the ball over, but he was stifled on the offensive end. I have suspicions his shoulders may have caused some issues also. As we have all read, Avery has gotten stronger physically over the offseason and been working tirelessly on his game. I cannot wait to see Avery back on the court at full-strength, playing his true position. He is a defensive marvel, and has a unique set of skills and craftiness on offense. He is only expendable if the Celtics force him into a position where his play, and thus value decreases. *Bruce Wayne voice* ‘I believe in Avery Bradley’.
And I’m not even thinking playoffs. It’s not in my thinking. Not one bit. This is a learning season, a time to commence building and structuring a roster and culture that will mesh together to create a formidable and dangerous NBA team to challenge in the Eastern Conference within the next 3-4 years. Our season record will be dependant on when Rondo returns, whether Olynynk can continue to show flashes of brilliance, Jeff Green’s level of play, our current conundrum at the centre position, and if any further trades are made. I’m taking a stab with 30-52. That might be being kind. We’ll wait and see.
We’re not tanking. We won’t have to.
This season isn’t about wins & losses, it’s about the future.
And using a season to find out who we are, as opposed to taking risks for Playoff hope, might just see a great Draft pick fall into our lap.
2013-14. The Architects are at the drawing board. Time to start planning.
The Big Three era has been an interesting mix of joy, excitement, frustration, regrets, and uncertainty. Year after year, setbacks plagued the team. That, however, has never stopped them from putting up bar fights (Orlando comeback, Jan 26 2012). Now that both the Ticket and the Truth don colours of black and white, the page has officially been turned. We can only ride forward, anticipating the arrival of the next Golden era.
‘The darkest hour is always before dawn’
Fortunately for us, the rays of the sun are already peeking over the horizons.
The core of the future has much to prove, but also much to show. There is no doubt about their abilities, nor the potential of where they could go. However, each member has expectations to fulfill; be it personal or professionally. Their strength does not lie in individual stat numbers, but in fighting together when the walls crumble down. It all boils down to one question: “In the face of adversity, can the young core of this team continue to preach the spirit of Ubuntu?”
With Pierce and Garnett leaving in the off-season, Celtics will be turning to Jeff Green for their offensive fire power. Rondo is now the only player remaining from the ’08 Championship team which means he will have to take on more of a leadership role to lead this young group. With a new coach and a younger team, the Celtics are headed into rebuilding mode.
Whilst it’s unlikely the Celtics will be big contenders, we’re still set for one heck of a season.
With Garnett and Pierce gone and Rondo out, look for Jeff Green to develop further as the go-to guy for this Celtics franchise.
He had proven that he is a cold-blooded closer and can put up big numbers on a nightly basis. I think that is enough to justify this claim. While I expect Green to be the Celtic to watch this season, I still expect Rondo to be the leader of this team. When he comes back, I expect him to put up MVP numbers. If Rondo doesn’t come back in time to be considered in the MVP race, he could be in the running for the Most Improved Player honour this season..
Artwork credit goes to Kaine @Lil_Kaino – also part of Team Celtics Down Under
Sharing some love to a new Celtics site, Truth on Causeway which is run by @heisencelts. On top of having lots of fresh new thoughts and features going on, one more reason to check the site out: Justin is also a contributor to the site. So show some support to our fellow Celtics, check Truth on Causeway out today mates.