Even if you are not an NBA basketball fan, you have probably heard of the Boston Celtics. They are a world-famous franchise and have been home to multiple iconic basketball legends including Bill Russell and Larry Bird. They also have a long dynasty of success, with a total of 17 NBA Championships under their name — more than any other NBA team. As the 2014-2015 NBA season gets underway, the current Celtics team aims to continue that long-standing championship legacy.
The road to winning has not been easy in recent years for the Celtics, especially with the departure of future Hall of Famers Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are also in the process of rebuilding their team: they introduced a new coach, Brad Stevens, last year and brought in an energetic group of young players. Prior to joining the Celtics, Stevens was the head coach of Butler University’s men’s basketball team for six successful seasons.
The Celtics did not make the playoffs last season with their record of 25-57, but there is playoff potential for the team this year. The centerpiece of the Celtics roster is four-time NBA All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who helped the team win their last championship in 2008. Rondo has since had to overcome multiple obstacles, including a torn ACL in 2013 and a broken hand more recently this year. But these injuries have neither deterred his drive nor lessened his ability to play at an elite level. In fact, Rondo has been averaging 9.3 points, 9 rebounds and 12.5 assists per game this season. He is effectively averaging a near triple-double, which is when a player in a game obtains double-digit totals in three of five statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots. On Nov. 5, he recorded his 20th career triple-double, which ties him with LeBron James for the most triple-doubles since the ’08-’09 season in the NBA. Thus, there is no doubt that a healthy Rondo can facilitate and lead the Boston Celtics.
Jeff Green, though only 28 years old, is another veteran leader of the team. He has had an impressive career so far with many memorable moments, including his remarkable game-winning shot last season against defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Kevin Garnett, Green’s highly revered former teammate, said in an interview that Green could be the “best ever to play this game.” Despite Green’s basketball finesse and accomplishments, it is his determination that makes him most admirable. In 2011, he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and underwent heart surgery, which forced him to miss the entire 2011-2012 season. Throughout his recovery, he not only focused on the hard work needed to return to the NBA, but also completed his studies and graduated from Georgetown University. He came back to the NBA during the 2012-2013 season and has continued making vast contributions to the team, averaging 19.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game so far this season.
The young talent of the team includes rookie point guard Marcus Smart, the seventh NBA draft pick out of Oklahoma State University. Smart has tremendous potential, especially with the high energy he brings to the team and his non-stop hustle. Together with guard Avery Bradley, the two form a tenacious defensive backcourt that has been essential to shutting down perimeter threats.
The entire team plays as a cohesive unit, and the scoring tends to be balanced, with seven to eight players frequently finishing the game in double-digit points. Although Rondo may be the established “superstar” of the group, the team is not over-reliant on any one player, and everyone is fully integrated into Stevens’ system.
Currently, the Celtics have an early record of 3-5. The team has shown flashes of what it can achieve, though injuries have continued to be an obstacle to overcome. Smart suffered an ankle injury in a win against the Pacers on Nov. 7 that has required him to miss two to three weeks. Nevertheless, the team has continued to maintain its focus. A notable performance was on Nov. 8, when they beat the Chicago Bulls 106-101. Despite the Bulls’ rally in the fourth quarter that cut the Celtics’ 19-point lead to two, the Celtics still managed to cling on for the win. The Celtics have so far played with great offensive execution and defensive intensity, so it will be exciting to follow their progress as the season continues.
There is a discernible difference between attending a live Celtics game and watching a game on television. Having attended a preseason game on Oct. 22 when the Boston Celtics hosted the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden, I thought it was refreshing to notice all the different aspects of a basketball game that do not get captured on camera. The energy and synchronization of the crowd, the amusement from the jumbotron, the halftime show and entertainment as well as the idiosyncratic movements of the Celtics personnel are just some of the details that can only be appreciated in person. So attending a live game is both an enjoyable way to support the Celtics and to spend time with friends.
Photo by Ivy Jiang ’18, Contributing Writer