What you see is what you get (Keith P. Smith): There are more good nights than bad nights, despite the last two games. But what you see is what you get. The Celtics are a good, but not great team. Some of the pieces are there to be a part of a great team. And IF fully healthy and IF they catch a break and IF Isaiah Thomas can continue his heroics maybe this team can make the Conference Finals. That would be a successful season, but still leave the team short of where they want to be.
So, how do they take the next step? Well, if you want it to happen this year, you have to be willing to trade at least one Nets pick and/or Jaylen Brown. No meaningful help that can lift the Celtics this year is coming without that going out in return. If you are taking Brown and the Nets picks off the table, the best you can hope for is a minor upgrade, likely at the back end of the rotation. And taking those assets off the table means you are signing up for the long haul.
I don't know which approach is the right one. I'm not sure Danny Ainge does either. Teams are rarely in this position of being close to contention, while holding amazing assets that won't pay off for years down the road. But if you aren't willing to move pieces in trade now, then settle in. Because what you see is what you are going to get for at least a couple more seasons.
Trust the process (Bill Sy): The Celtics lost a heartbreaker at home against the Blazers, but this happened:
OK. Maybe this isn’t The Process. Boston didn’t tank for three straight years like Philadelphia or Los Angeles to acquire high lottery picks. Terry Rozier isn’t Joel Embiid. However, it’s important to see these young guys step up in these pressure cooker situations.
Since taking over the Celtics, Brad Stevens has coached to win. If Jordan Crawford was the best player on the team (but contractually, didn’t really have a future with the team), Stevens played Crawford. Unlike tanking teams, young guys only get opportunities if they’re practicing well and performing on the court.
For Rozier, it’s been a shaky season so far. After being the darling of the summer league, he didn’t exactly meet expectations early and his playing time has fluctuated since mid-December. Against Portland yesterday, Rozier was thrust into a critical role with Avery Bradley and Jonas Jerebko nursing injuries and he responded.
After the game, Rozier said, "I was open as soon as I caught it so I let it fly. Coach drew the play up for me and it felt good to see the ball go in. It actually was the second play drawn up for me to shoot a 3 in the fourth quarter. And it means a lot. It just shows his trust in the growth that we're having as the season progresses. So that felt good."
The game will ultimately count as a loss, but steps like this for a young player are wins. Rozier has never struck me as a guy lacking confidence, but confidence is a two-way street; you can have all the confidence in the world, but if it’s not reciprocated by your coach, it means nothing.