Not to be condescending - but I'll be condescending...
Are the tankers happy now?
All year we had to listen to outcries after every win like it was the end of the world.
The Celtics won 25 games. You know what their win-total over/under was in Las Vegas before the season? 25. (Scary how good those wise guys are.) That's a grand total of one more win than they had in 2007 when they finished with the second worst record yet fell all the way to the fifth overall draft selection.
The difference? This year there were some PITIFUL teams. We all knew Philly would stink. Utah as well. That was a given. Sacramento is always prime for a disastrous campaign record wise. And if one said the Lakers would not have Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for virtually all of the year, as well guys like Pau Gasol miss 20+ games, PLUS the Mike D'Antoni nightmare playing its way through the course of the season, they were certainly candidates for a sub-25 win season as well.
But the Bucks were supposed to get their standard ~30 wins. Orlando was supposed to make a bit of a stride - at least challenge the 30-win plateau.
Only the Phoenix Suns really "surprised."
In regards to the Boston Celtics themselves, I'd say given these circumstances:
- How hard this team played particularly early in the season
- Sullinger coming back healthy and even taking a step forward
- Jordan Crawford playing out of his mind (and most importantly, boosting his trade value!)
- Career seasons from veterans Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries (in the case of Humphries - the second best season of his career)
- The team staying relatively healthy (compare the Celtics health situation to the Lakers')
- Olynyk blossoming down the stretch
- Brad Stevens showing he could coach in this league and at the very least proving he's not Lon Kruger or Rick Pitino (whether he's a championship coach is something we'll find out in later years)
- The team playing in front of an exuberant home crowd that still filled the Garden to near-max capacity every night (never underestimate the value of this. It's those dead, Milwaukee-esque crowds that create lethargy, especially for a young team.)
...25 wins was pretty much as 'bad' as the Celts could've done. Heck, the team they tied with, Utah, posted a -7.2 point differential (and they play in the MUCH tougher West.) Los Angeles had a -6.7 point differential, and they finished with two more wins.
Boston finished with a -4.5 - which puts their Pythagoreanwin total at 29 wins. If Boston won as many games as they were 'supposed to' mathematically - there'd be a tie between Boston and the Detroit Pistons for the eight and nine slot in the lottery. The Boston media and tankers would've flooded the Charles River with tears if that happened.
But it didn't. Fourth worst. To paraphrase what Lou Merloni said on Comcast Sports Net New England last night - everyone would've signed up for that before the season. Well, a championship or deep playoff run would've been nice. Even having a season similar to what the Suns had, where the C's could've built off that going forward would've been far more ideal than the extra ping-pong balls. But this isn't a debate for tanking vs. competitiveness. There've been enough columns written on CLNS Radio about that.
What this is truly about is this: Every single fan of the Boston Celtics should be happy.
The "winning culture" people got a team that didn't cheat the system, didn't tank, took things seriously while developing young players along the way.
As mentioned, Sullinger and Olynyk made strides. Bradley further enhanced his offensive game (maybe even a little too much!) And heck, even a fringe guy like Phil Pressey has at least played himself into a camp-invite next year. Certainly, playing hard and competing in a real system every night may motivate him during the off-season to at least try and attain a jumpshot.
And the tanker crowd got what I say was a 'best case scenario.' The Celtics have too much talent (there isn't much, but compare Boston's roster to the talent-barren rosters of Philadelphia, Utah, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee) for them to be any worse than what they were. I'd argue they have more talent on this team right now than Orlando, Cleveland, New York, Sacramento, and some other bottom feeders as well. And that's not even including the abundance of assets Ainge has in draft picks in the near future. In fact, I have
And hey, I'd say the Brooklyn Nets' pick being either #17 or #18 in a deep draft is a bit of a bonus too. Everyone had that pick pegged as a late-20s pick this year with the hopes that the first rounders down the line would bear more fruit as that team ages and the cap eventually chokes them out.
So now, just sit back and relax. No more sweating it out late night checking Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, or Los Angeles Lakers scores at 3:30 in the morning. No more arguing with your fellow Celtics fans over whether or not the team is screwed for years to come because they won games they 'shouldn't have' such as taking the season series against the Miami Heat. No more...nothing for the next few weeks.
And thank God.
But no matter what happens on Lottery Night, remember, that's out of everyone's control. Just sit back and enjoy the fireworks. The real fun begins now.
Or so we were told.