I’ve had public and private conversations with people who, despite what decades of history has taught us, are giving up on this team before Christmas.
And I’ve determined, once again, that I’ve got to be Mr. Happy Pants around here. So here we are… for what feels like the fifth year in a row… needing a pep talk.
Ok, here it is.
First, I have to acknowledge the obvious. The Celtics are mediocre at best at the moment. I fully acknowledge that this team needs help. However, those of you who are calling this team done need a little dose of reality.
1. Avery Bradley is coming back
If you haven’t heard my argument for why this is a big deal, then you haven’t read the 20 things I’ve written about him in the past 2 days. Here’s the thing about him, though…. I’m basing my opinion of his impact based solely on him playing the same way he did last year defensively. I’m not asking him to score any more than he has before. Overflow offense is just fine for him.
So step one is to not give up on a team when a key guy… a guy who last year made a tremendous impact on the team… hasn’t even played yet.
2. Courtney Lee is slowly coming around
He’s now dropped double-digits in two straight games on 12-22 shooting. You can expand that to 15-29, better than 50%, for the entire road trip since he’s been inserted in the starting line up.
Folks, he’s played 24 games in a new city, in a new system, with new teammates. He’s got a long history of shooting well. He’s not going to suddenly forget. He’s figuring it out.
3. Danny Ainge has no fear, but he also isn’t going to overreact
Make no mistake, the Celtics are in a win-now mode. And they’re not going to switch to a rebuilding mode mid-stream. They’ve actually set themselves up to do both fairly well.
Danny Ainge is very willing to make moves. We know that. But while a lot of people are hitting the trade machine hard and pitching nonsensical trades, Danny is taking a long look at who is actually available, what it might actually take, and what this team really needs. Getting Bradley back is the first step. And if his return doesn’t trigger the chain of events many of us expect, then he’ll start ramping up his efforts for sure.
4. Paul Pierce is fooling everyone
As of right now, Paul Pierce is at his second-HIGHEST scoring average of the Kevin Garnett era. He’s taking more free throws per game than he has since ’08-’09. Yes, his shooting percentages are down, but don’t let that fool you. Pierce knows damn well what he needs to do.
I’ve heard people say he looks old and done.
Folks… he’s TENTH IN THE LEAGUE IN SCORING! And he’s doing it while coasting.
5. With 58 games to play, the Celtics are just SIX games from the top seed in the East.
That’s it. Six games. For all the madness… for all the doomsday crying to blow it up… The Celtics have played their worst and still only sit SIX measly games from the New York Knicks, who have played their absolute best basketball.
The Miami Heat only have FOUR more wins than the C’s. That’s all.
I know we all live in our little bubbles where we watch these games very intensely and are focused way too much on every little failure. And while the Celtics have some very real problems that need to be acknowledged, there is help on the way. Meanwhile, the Celtics have the league’s 10th leading scorer, the league’s top assist man, and the invaluable Kevin Garnett who may have as big an impact his team’s success as anyone. Courtney Lee is slowly getting better and Jason Terry will settle into his role. And despite all of the doom-and-gloom, the Celtics are very attainable winning streak away from vaulting into the top half of the East.
So chill out folks. Take a step back and take in the whole picture. The Celtics are struggling, for sure… but there are plenty of reasons to be positive.