The Boston Celtics’ 2014-2015 season may be over, but they have achieved a lot since the beginning of the season. The Celtics secured the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a regular season record of 40- 42 and made the playoffs after missing it last year. Their first round match-up was against the second seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29), in which the Cavaliers took the series 4-0. The Cavaliers were a formidable opponent, led by four-time Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Champion LeBron James. James, an Ohio native who came back home to the Cavaliers this season after four years with the Miami Heat, teamed up with All- Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to form the Cavaliers’ superstar trio. The Celtics did not back down against the difficult match-up and played with great energy in the best-of-seven series.
Game one of the first-round series on April 19 against the Cavaliers was dominated by Cleveland’s hot shooting as Irving was unstoppable, finishing with 30 points on 11- for-21 field goals and 5-for-9 three-point shooting. Though the Celtics came out strong in the beginning and led after the first quarter, Cleveland ultimately came out on top with a final score of 113-100. Isaiah Thomas finished with a team-high 22 points for the Celtics.
Game two of the series on April 21 was once again dominated by the Cavaliers’ superstars as they defeated the Celtics 99-91. James and Irving took over the fourth quarter, scoring all of the Cav’s 24 points in the last 12 minutes of the game.
Game three on April 23 saw the Celtics coming back to TD Garden and playing in front of the Boston home crowd. The Celtics trailed by eight points at the end of the first half, but they cut the deficit and tied the game at 56- 56 in the beginning of the third quarter. Cleveland, led by James, Irving and Love, yet again proved its formidability and went on a 10-0 run to widen the margin between the two teams. Cleveland did not relinquish the lead and routed the Celtics 103-95.
Game four on April 26 was an aggressive one between the two teams. Love dislocated his shoulder, leaving the game in the first quarter, and Jae Crowder of the Celtics sprained his left knee in the third. J.R. Smith was also ejected for his foul on Crowder. Amid high tensions and emotions, the Cavaliers managed to close out the series with a 101-93 win over the Celtics.
The Celtics have exceeded previous expectations. Sports analysts could not come to a consensus earlier in the season about whether the Celtics would make the playoffs, especially as the team went through various ups and downs with many changes to its roster. The departure of key players such as Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green contributed to the uncertainty about the team’s success this season. But the Celtics, along with the Cavaliers, had the most wins in the Eastern Conference since Feb. 2, going 24-12 in the last 36 regular season games.
The Celtics are recognized as a team with a lot of potential going forward, especially with the young talent that is on the team. This group of young players include Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and Evan Turner. A notable mid-season addition to the Celtics is point guard Isaiah Thomas who averaged 16.3 points and 6.3 assists per game and finished second in the Sixth Man of the Year Award behind the Toronto Raptors’ Lou Williams.
“We’ve really come together as a team, the last couple months especially. We’ve got everybody buying in,” Olynyk said to celtics.com. “Coach has been on us the whole year to play the right way, play together, play hard on both ends of the floor. It’s all coming together.”
The Celtics’ Head Coach Brad Stevens has been praised for his coaching and smart play calling. He was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for the month of April and also finished fourth in voting for Coach of the Year behind Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks. In just his second season with the Celtics, Stevens has already shown his strong capabilities as a long term coach for the Celtics.
The Celtics now look forward to resting in the off- season before starting preparation for the next season. Management will be busy making off-season trades and potentially picking two first-rounders and three second- rounders on June 26 at the 2015 NBA Draft.
Ivy Jiang ’18 is the Sports & Wellness Assistant Editor who is majoring in Economics. When she is not studying, she is probably following the NBA, reading, watching emotional films, eating or leisurely exercising. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy of Ivy Jiang ’18