If you ask around the Association the Celtics march to the NBA Finals will be met with little to no resistance this year. LeBron is gone and it’s been decreed that the 76ers are a bunch of cowards and no real threat to Boston’s inevitable Eastern Conference domination.
Well not exactly. But the Celtics are definitely a trendy pick to come out of the East. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are back healthy along with Al Horford and ascending stars Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum. NBA Writer Sean Deveney of the Sporting News agrees that the C’s can be really good, but there’s one thing that can possibly cause them to stumble.
“It’s going to be sacrifice,” Deveney told host Adam Kaufman on the Celtics Beat Podcast on CLNS Media. “I think in Boston, we’ve seen it before where players have come in and sacrificed. You had Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Of course the thing was those guys were veterans. They had already done a lot and they wanted to win. You’ve got guys now that are in their early 20’s who are still trying to prove themselves. And it’s a matter of whether they can sacrifice.”
Deveney specifically cited Terry Rozier, who after getting a taste of stardom last season has to settle back into a reserve role with Irving back from injury.
“To me, that’s the big thing. Can Terry Rozier accept that and be somebody who sacrifices? Because he still hasn’t established himself in the league,” said Deveney. He still really hasn’t shown that he can do what we saw in stretches last year consistently over 82 games.”
Deveney doesn’t think Rozier or any of the other Celtics are bad apples per se, nor will they necessarily buck if their playing time is reduced. It’s just that nobody knows exactly how this is going to work.
“I think that’s one of things they’re going to run up against. If you’re in your 30’s, like Pierce, Garnett, and Allen were, then you kind of get it,” Deveney told Kaufman. “But at 23 it’s tough to understand that, and certainly at 20, 21 it’s even tougher because you just don’t know. You don’t know what you don’t know yet, and that’s the challenge with these guys. It’s hard to understand sacrifice when you don’t know how good you can be. It’s not a bad apple thing.”
“It’s just natural a guy like Rozier, or Tatum, or Brown they’re still going to want to show, ‘Hey look this is how much better I can be.’ And that might be to the detriment of the team. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to play for a new contract or anything. It’s just a natural thing, at that age, you want to show what you can do. It’s going to be tough to tame. I wouldn’t be surprised in the early part of the year to see some time off for Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Not because you want to make sure they’re healthy. You just to make sure the young guys are engaged.“