UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston Celtics at the All-Star Break

Boston Celtics Logo

The Boston Celtics enter the week leading to the National Basketball Association’s All-Star break on a winning surge, and are currently second place in the Eastern Conference. They sit a few games behind the reigning league champion, the Cleveland Cavaliers, from the top spot in the conference. They also stand several games ahead of Washington in regards to playoff position, and are also ahead of Toronto for the Atlantic division, for which the Raptors are the reigning champions.

If the playoffs started today, the Celtics current position would be their best since the 2008-2009 season, the year after winning their most recent championship, their 17th title which gave them the distinction of the most championship win of any NBA franchise. Though their 36-19 record looks solid, it would only put them in fourth place in the loaded Western Conference. They’d be ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers who are coached by former Celtics boss Doc Rivers, highlighting the disparity as far as talent and competitiveness go between the conferences.

While a Boston Celtics player has won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award more times than any team at 10 such occasions, not one has won the honor since Larry Bird’s 1986 award. Isaiah Thomas, albeit a long-shot, has this opportunity in his sights, boosted by his 29.8 points per game average. This puts him in second in the league behind Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, who is hoping to join Oscar Robinson as the only players to average a triple-double for the whole season in league history.

Thomas leads the Celtics lineup, which boasts five players averaging in double figures for scoring. Avery Bradley is second on the team in this aspect at 17.7 a game, while also being the club’s leading rebounder at 6.9 per contest. Al Horford has put team efforts as opposed to individual efforts as his top priority in his first season as a Celtic, scoring at nearly 15 points a game, and second on the team in rebounding just behind Bradley. He is also the undisputed lead shot blocker on the club at 1.6 per game, and has displayed an ever-improving perimeter shooting game, hitting 65 three-point shots at a respectably good 35 percent shooting average.

At over 10 points and 4.5 assists per game, Marcus Smart has become the club’s top bench player, with Kelly Olynyk providing significant support from the bench as well, at nine points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Looking forward, the Celtics have virtually all they need covered in terms of going for a long playoff run come springtime. Thomas is the team’s undisputed go-to player. Thomas and Bradley, as well as Jae Crowder, provide ample support from three-point range, with Bradley and Crowder hitting over 40 percent of their attempts and with Thomas just under that mark.

As far as what they could still need, the Celtic’s best focus will be to look for another frontcourt player who could rebound, and more importantly, block shots. That ship may have sailed on the Celtics with the recent trade between Toronto and Orlando involving Serge Ibaka, who could have satisfied those needs, especially when going against Cleveland and the game’s best player in LeBron James. James, even at 32, can still attack the rim with little if any resistance.
But overall, if the roster stays healthy and if they put in their best effort, the Celtics stand to put in a great season.