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What did Year 4 of the rebuild tell us about the Celtics?

After two first round exits, Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals to only get trounced by Cleveland. Where are we now?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

What is the biggest thing we learned about this team this season?

Greg Cassoli: That they're really good, but not great. The Celtics season was a lot fun, but even if Isaiah Thomas had stayed healthy, there wasn't much hope against LeBron and the Cavs. That's an affirmation for hunting for a superstar, and should be vindication for Danny Ainge's decision not to make a win now move. Boston is in the envious position of being able to build for a championship in the future while being good in the present. All this to say, what we learned is that the Celtics aren't ready to contend yet, and they're not as close as some may have hoped. That's not an indictment of the current roster, so much as a useful reality check. The future remains bright.

Keith Smith: They are short of title contention by at least a player or two. I think we all knew that, but had tricked ourselves into believing they might be able to overcome it. As a second choice, that the Celtics young guys are actually pretty good. Marcus Smart is a world class defender and showed some glimpses as a pick and roll playmaker. Jaylen Brown was an athletic marvel all year and seemed to figuring it out as the season progressed. Terry Rozier showed signs of being a good change of pace combo guard off the bench. And Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele played well overseas. Future is even brighter with young talent than we thought.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Kungu: The Celtics had a really good year and they maximized the talent that they had on this roster for sure. I think what we did see is that this team still has some way before it gets to the level of CLE/WSH and one position that was sorely lacking was the lack of secondary scoring. Teams have figured out that once you get take the ball of out Isaiah Thomas’ this Celtics team struggles to create much of anything. Though it’s no promise that Gordon Hayward will come to this team, getting a player of his skillset along with Markelle Fultz could alleviate just enough of the burden from Isaiah Thomas to take this team to a new level.

The team is also going to need to make a decision of the direction of their backcourt. The Celtics are seem pretty adamant about not signing a traditional big to a long-term deal and despite the rebounding weaknesses, they’ve been able to exploit opposing team bigs with shooting and versatility. Now with Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Jordan Mickey and Amir Johnson all set to hit the market the Celtics are going to have to find a way to get some type of size for next year’s roster. Ante Zizic will be relied upon to be a younger, stronger version of Amir Johnson, but the jury is still out on what a guy like Gursechon Yabusele can do at the NBA level. Regardless, the Celtics are going to have to beat the Cavaliers to reach their ultimate goal, and having a guy who put pressure on Tristan Thompson could go a long way.

Jared Weiss: The potential of the Stevens system was realized to a stronger degree, but the vulnerability of the roster was alarmingly obvious. It’s hard to project how much better things would have gone if the Celtics had another scorer on the roster besides Isaiah Thomas, but Cleveland would’ve throttled them either way. They are a self-diagnosed finesse team who gets bloody on the perimeter on defense to make up for it. Going against a Cleveland team that is both a figurative and physically literal juggernaut, they got tossed around. That was their obvious ceiling, the fact that for all of their focus on the process and commitment to it, they were short on talent. This wasn’t a surprise in the least, but it was what ended up defining their season. The season was a good effort and good progress, but it wasn’t a success and that’s the key difference.

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