There will be no banner hung for this season but there’s no need to hang our heads either.
The Boston Celtics won 53 games, gained the top seed in the East, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, and lost to the defending champs. That’s a really good season in itself.
Add to that the fact that we saw Isaiah Thomas have one of the best offensive seasons by any Celtics player ever. Brad Stevens cemented his status as one of the best coaches in the game. Al Horford quietly proved that he’s worth every penny of the contract he signed. Avery Bradley took yet another step forward as one of the best two-way players in the game. Jae Crowder had the best shooting season of his career.
Younger players developed in a positive, winning environment and got a taste of playoff success. Marcus Smart continues to make “game winning plays” as the most randomly insane player I’ve ever watched. Terry Rozier learned how to change speeds, which is unlocking his impressive talents. Jaylen Brown went from lost rookie to rotation player to situational crunch time playoff performer in just a year.
Above all, this was a fun team to watch. They shared the ball, spread the floor, and knocked down shots. When the 3rd quarter came to an end, all any Celtics fan could think was “here we go, 4th quarter, Isaiah time.”
There was always a sense that this was as good as it could get. An undercurrent that none of this would “mean anything” in the long run. I get it. The only thing that really matters in Boston is the banners. I respect that perspective to a point.
Still, what if this was a step towards that ultimate goal in the long run. We didn’t get there this season, but maybe we will next year or the year after that. Perhaps going through these playoffs was exactly what was needed to teach some of these young guys what it takes to reach those heights. Maybe getting blown out by the Cavs will serve as motivation when LeBron James ages to the point of looking almost mortal.
Or maybe this was just enough proof to sell a potential free agent on coming to Boston. There’s a very interesting offseason coming up. The future could be very bright indeed.
Before we go there, however, I wanted to take a moment and tip my cap to this team. It was a good run. It was a lot of fun. I’ll remember this season fondly, even without the banner.