When the Celtics swung the ball around the left wing of the court in the waning moments of Wednesday’s win over the Raptors, setting up the pivotal Isaiah Thomas three-pointer, the possibility felt within reach. Now it’s official.
The best in the east will now get a taste of “Mad Brad.” In his fourth NBA season, Brad Stevens is in line to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
With Tyronn Lue ineligible after picking up David Blatt’s Cavaliers record and coaching a season ago, Stevens will be handed the keys to the All-Star ship. Toronto is in the midst of a nuclear meltdown, losing eight of their last 10. They’re all the way down to the four seed behind Washington. After the Raptors’ second loss to the Magic in a week, the C’s have officially guaranteed they’ll be the second best team in the east when the break begins Monday.
That leaves Stevens with the best record sans Cleveland.
Stevens doesn’t seem to care much, judging by the fact that he didn’t write it down as one of his goals, but it’s a monumental achievement given his progress with a roster that largely came together underneath him in the 2014-15 season.
A single year was spent in the lottery before a 119-94 run that has them on the verge of their third straight playoff appearance.
More importantly, the Celtics are set to have a contingency of personnel around the best players in the NBA for nearly a week. Stevens, his staff and Thomas will all converge on NOLA.
The rumblings of the possibility were already making their way around the league, sparking excitement among some about the possibility of playing under Stevens. There’s interest in what the experience is all about given its success and even if an ounce of intrigue is instilled in a potential future Celtics, this means a great deal.
A lot of players & agents around the league are hoping Brad Stevens gets the AS coaching nod, so they can see what he's all about up close.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 4, 2017
The Celts have the sixth best record in the NBA over the last two calendar years. Despite all the sensational individual stories centered around their volcanic rise, there’s still a next step to take and adding an allure of interest in their culture certainly helps. Whether it’s via free agency (now less likely with new cap projections) or trade, the Celts have to generate outside interest toward playing in Boston.
They failed to sign Thomas in his first free agency before later trading for him, it took a massive effort to sign Al Horford. But once players like these arrive, get in the environment and experience the Celtics culture; players like them and Kevin Garnett before them look like they’ve never belonged anywhere else.
With all that in mind. The Celtics’ run into second seed positioning past the halfway point in the season is taking on a higher meaning than the context of this season.
In the immediacy, the second seed is a sensational spot to be in especially if Toronto keeps slipping into a possible second round matchup with Cleveland. Those Wizards aren’t going away, though, on a hotter stretch of seven week play than the C’s.