What a difference a year makes huh? Just last off-season, the toxic Kyrie Irving decided to part ways with Boston, and at the time, had many wondering what the state of the Celtics would be entering the 2019-2020 season. The mood quickly turned following the signing of Walker and Kanter, whom were expected to have vital roles on the team this year. While Kanter has had his up and down games, Walker has quickly emerged as a leader in the Celtics locker room. The effects of this have been apparent all year. There is no doubt that when Kemba returns from his nagging knee injury, the Celtics have one of the best starting 5 in the league.
Come playoff time, one injury to the starting five could put any chances of a final appearance in jeopardy. I would have loved to see an Isiah Thomas reunion for some critical scoring off the bench. He knows Stevens and the system, and would be a good replacement if the knee injury Kemba has keeps him out of any games come playoff time. It appears that Ainge is going to pass on bringing the “little guy” back to Boston. Another need would be a big man, but as March 1st has passed, it appears that the Celtics are fully staying pat.
Injury Bug / Kemba Being Kemba:
Beyond the starting 5, this is where the concern creeps in. The injury bug has plagued the Celtics in spurts this year. To make matters worse, Boston’s bench has not been consistent to any extent this season. Walker, Kanter, Brown, Smart, Hayward, and Rob Williams have all endured injuries this year that have led to opportunities for more minutes and new roles for different players. The injuries to both Walker and Robert Williams are important to watch moving forward.
I believe the health of Kemba is crucial to a deep playoff run for the C’s. For one, he spreads the floor for the Celtics. He has so many shooters on the floor with him that it becomes easier to get his own shot. With the emergence of Tatum, Kemba has fit in nicely with the Celtics starting unit, and has given tons of confidence to players like Hayward and Brown. If all five are healthy come playoff time, it will be quite the site to watch. The second is his leadership, as Kemba’s trust and encouragement to his teammates have sprung confidence in this group.
Look At Tatum Grow:
The hype surrounding Jayson Tatum is well deserved. The dude can flat out ball! He has been the best Celtic on the floor for quite some time now, and I fully believe that this man is heading toward superstar level. Can he carry a team in the playoffs? That remains to be unseen, but he has shown glimpses of stardom in prior years playoffs. With another year under his belt, the Celtics will need to lean on his consistent play on both ends of the floor in the playoffs. Many players have benefited from Tatum’s play, but I believe Kemba will benefit most come playoff time. With teams taking notice and double teaming Tatum, this will leave Kemba open for big moments come April.
Quotes That Matter:
“Jayson Tatum has reached a new height. Superstar level. We’ve got to go with him.” (Jaylen Brown)
“A lot of people have us counted out.” We use that as motivation. We like it, we like being the underdog. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain and we are going to use that to our advantage.” (Marcus Smart)
“I’m coming in to do my job, play my part and do what I can to elevate these guys as much as possible. Do what I can to help the team, to contribute to winning. These guys, they’ve been winning for years. I want to be part of that. This is a big-time roster. The guys that make up the roster, there’s such great young talent — guys who are hungry, who want to win and want to get better and work hard. That’s who I want to be around.” (Kemba Walker)
This speaks volumes to the team this year! They are unselfish, and that has brought them tremendous chemistry and results. It’s safe to say that I am excited for what the rest of the season has to bring.
Key Takeaways – Pros and Cons Moving Forward:
- Emergence of Tatum.
- Kemba’s Leadership.
- Celtics Bench a Concern.
- Team Match-ups in playoffs could cause issues.
- Chemistry has made a difference.
- Health is important so that first and second units can prepare for playoff push.
Wake up “Green Teamers!” This team has a chance to be great, while witnessing the emergence of a home grown superstar!
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-Steven Carlberg (@stevencarlberg)