The Celtics have been under the microscope in the East ever since they emerged as potential contenders again under Brad Stevens. They were obviously in a rebuilding stage when the Celtics parted ways with long time coach Doc Rivers, who saw only one championship with them in 2008. It did not come as a surprise when Brad Stevens, the former Butler head coach that brought the team to their first Final Four in school history, went 25-57 in his first year. The actual surprise was the Celtics never missing the playoffs every season after that. Brad Stevens is remarkable at utilizing the players he has and setting them up to succeed through well-crafted play calling. As his roster grew each year with more and more talent, he was able to improve their playoff success. With the All-Star break over and the playoff push in full effect, I wanted to see how the Celtics have fared in the past five years during this time; the pattern is surprising.
Record: 25-57 – Starting Lineup: B. Bass, A. Bradley, J. Crawford, J. Green, J. Sullinger
With a rather lackluster season and a starting lineup nobody would be happy with, the Celtics went 6-22 after the All-Star break. No surprise here with brand new coaching and Rajon Rondo still playing in Green coming off the bench.
Record: 40-42 – Starting Lineup: B. Bass, A. Bradley, M. Smart, E. Turner, T. Zeller
The Celtics fell just short of .500 but had a large improvement compared to a horrible previous season. They make their first big draft move by choosing Marcus Smart 6th overall and going all in on Avery Bradley with a multi-year deal. This young team managed to push a 20-11 record after the All-Star break and made it to the first round of the playoffs where they got to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. An unfortunate matchup for the Celtics since it was Lebron James first season back after he left the Miami Heat. They were subsequently swept and the hopes for the Celtics subdued.
Record: 48-34 – Starting Lineup: A. Bradley, J. Crowder, A. Johnson, J. Sullinger, I. Thomas
Just three seasons into Brad Stevens tenure and he manages to pull the Celtics above .500 and hitting fast–forward on the Celtics rebuilding stage. During the offseason, the team choose Terry Rozier 16th overall. With players acquired during the prior year such as Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, there was some continuity for the first time in the Stevens Era. After the All-star break this year the team managed to go 16-11; Four less wins (but 4 less games) than the previous year. They made it to the playoffs yet again, only to be eliminated first round by the Atlanta Hawks, 2-4. An improvement from last year’s sweep but still leaving much to be desired by this growing team.
Record: 53-29 – Starting Lineup: A. Bradley, J. Crowder, A. Horford, A. Johnson, I. Thomas
Just like that it seems as though the Celtics are done rebuilding and just trying to put the finishing pieces on a great team. They finished this season as the number 1 seed over the heavily favored Cavaliers squad led by Lebron James and Kyrie Irving. The hottest move this year was the Celtics acquiring big man Al Horford to increase their chances of landing big–time free agent Kevin Durant. Now we all know that did not end up happening but Horford has been a key cog for the Celtics even to this day. The C’s had yet another successful draft by picking Jaylen Brown 3rd overall. With another All-star break coming and going, the Celtics finished the year off 16-9. During their playoff run the Celtics were ready to tackle any team that came their way. Fighting their way to number 1 seed started a fire in their hearts to reach for that championship. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals only to be shot down by Lebron James and the Cavaliers again 1-4.
Record: 55-27 – Starting Lineup: A. Baynes, J. Brown, A. Horford, K. Irving, J. Tatum
The Celtics are serious contenders at this point, showing that they have what it takes to go round for round with the best of the NBA. They made a blockbuster trade acquiring Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers who everyone believed was the final piece to complete such a talented team. They also signed Gordon Hayward, who unfortunately suffered a season–ending injury in the first quarter of the first game of the year. This forced the Celtics to start Duke star Jayson Tatum, who was selected 3rd overall after trading their number 1 pick to the 76ers for a conditional first round pick. Everything seems to be going great for this Celtics organization. They improved their record from last year falling just short of number 1 seed. After this all-star break however, they went 15-8 to finish the season. Interestingly enough they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, once again facing the Cavaliers. This time they were able to push it to a Game 7, something that was not expected going into the series. Unfortunately, they fell short again, and for the fourth time in a row the NBA Finals consisted of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics are currently ranked fifth in the East with a 37-24 record this year. They are still in playoff contention but many are worried they might not be able to get it together this year as a team. With all of the talent they have on this team, they still seem to be lost. They have been trying to figure it out all year. Fortunately for the Celtics it seems as though each season the worse the Celtics do after the All-Star break, the more successful they are in their playoff run. They are 0-4 so far through the last stretch of the season and with only 20 games left and 7 of those teams having a losing record, they might get a run for their money. Will we see the Celtics in the NBA Finals? Will they even make the playoffs? I for one am very skeptical of them pulling it together but I certainly would like to believe this pattern is true!
This post was made by Hold My Drink Blogger Andy. Follow Andy on instagram @Andy_Pupusa