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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Celtics need depth

The Boston Celtics have had a mostly overall impressive 2019-20 season, outperforming a lot of expectations held of them by fans coming into the year. Currently with a record of 4219, and standing at a game and a half behind the Championship Toronto Raptors for second place in the East, the team has positioned itself arguably as best as possible for a deep playoff run come next month. However, as is the case with all sports in this city, in the end, a season is ultimately defined by only one thing: Championship, or bust. And while the Celtics of the new decade have undoubtedly been on a hot-streak, what with standouts such as young star Jayson Tatum having a breakout year, when getting down to it there are certain truths need-be faced if Boston truly expects to ride this team to an eighteenth title, especially if the realistic plan is to make the push this season.

 

The Celtics this season have shown pretty clear consistency across their 60 plus played games thus far. The team has tended to go on win streaks here and there, racking up two, three, or even more wins in a row, shining light on their high potential, only to after a week or more of winning, lose in more often than not significant fashion. Dropping close games here and there are a staple of most every team, so I recognize ‘significant’ losses on a case-by-case, but mostly in losses by 10 plus points, of which the Celtics had seven of going into the all-star break. Obviously the team has not allowed these instances to occur too often this year, but when they do fans have usually been given clear insight into just what is, and more importantly, what isn’t working for this squad. And most glaringly to myself, is the depth, or lack-thereof, on the team. 

 

Since the all-star break, the Celtics have gone 43, with two of those losses being about as close as possible, one by two points to the Lakers, and the other by one point to the Rockets. Both games were riveting and could easily have gone the Celtics way, but alas, the ball doesn’t always drop in our favor. However, in the team’s third loss since the break, in a overtime battle vs. the Brooklyn Nets (which if you watched, you’d more likely call a surrender), the Celtics shined brightest their true colors. The team ultimately lost by nine points, but to those keyed in, it felt like more significant a blow than just a dropped game in early March. 

 

Marking Kemba Walker’s first game back in the lineup, having been out since the break due to a continually nagging knee injury, the team was expected to, with definitive effort, take care of business on their home court. However, star Jayson Tatum did sit out the game, due to an illness, which markedly gave way for the rest of the lineup to step up and solidify itself. Prove itself. And, until the fourth quarter, they seemingly did. The Celtics led the Nets by 17 going into the fourth quarter, and appeared to have the win in the bag. That was, until Caris LeVert (avg. 17, 4, 4) and his running mates outscored Boston 5134 in the last quarter, and 112 in overtime, walking out of Boston with a stolen win. Or rather, having taken what was given to them.

 

Boston’s staggering overtime loss should come as a red flag. The team has a depth issue, and without the cornerstone in Tatum competing night in and out, it is glaring. Granted, missing games due to illness (hopefully) won’t be commonplace, but regardless, if again, the goal is a championship, which here it always is, the team needs to take a look down the bench and reassess. Certainly there are a couple of options for the team to take in the waning months of the season, but in trying to run through them quickly, I will focus it into a single idea. Obviously now the trade deadline is passed, which rules out packaging players or assets for any substantial upgrade, but that does not rule out making a significant roster change. In the game against the Nets, Celtics backup center Vincent Poirier (avg. just under 2 PPG, 1.5 RPG) did not play. Rookie Carson Edwards did contribute eight points in the overtime loss, but that still has been less than impactful (avg. 3 & 1.2). GM Danny Ainge has historically been stingy with regards to moving around pieces (certainly in recent years), but if he feels similarly to myself, there seems apparent a couple of loose ends that could be cutoff in order to free up space for a contributing player. A couple of potential options: Allen Crabbe, recently released free agent guard. Jamal Crawford, electric scorer, tallied 50 in his final outing last season. Jordan Bell, free-agent PF whom with championship experience (Warriors, 2018), could fill the role of backup big man.