Let's face it, not even the president of basketball operations; Danny Ainge himself could have envisioned the current Celtics playoff push we are all witnessing. After all this team is still just in year-two of a rebuilding phase. One could blame it on a weak Eastern Conference, that potentially could have three-teams with sub .500 records in the postseason by the time it's all said and done in less than two weeks. Or you could say this young group of players, with Brad Stevens leading the pack, just wants to prove to themselves and to the basketball world that there is always something to play for.
Ainge made his weekly appearance on a Boston sports radio station, and he too has admitted that he's on board the C's playoff-bandwagon. The decision to extend his team's season or wait for the ping-pong balls to drop is not in his hands, even though he would like it be.
But the man in charge has come around to the idea of Celtics basketball at the TD Garden in late April for the first time since 2013, especially considering how inspired his team has been playing the last month and a half.
"I probably would be [disappointed if the Celtics missed the postseason], just because our guys have worked really hard and our coaching staff. I know how much they’re focusing on getting into the playoffs," Ainge said this past Thursday morning "They're working, they have goals, and I’d like for them to accomplish the goals that they’ve set. So, yeah, I’d be disappointed for them." [ESPN Boston]
Whether he is telling the truth or not, is another story, but I don't think it matters to Ainge one way or another. Obviously we have to believe with all the moves made this season, (11 trades, 22 game-day players and 40 roster players) the position the Celtics find themselves in was not on the list of plans.
Once Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green; the C's most talented players, were dealt by mid-January, Ainge had to be thinking 'I can't wait until Draft-Lottery day!'. But then again after a successful 3-3 west coast swing that included back-to-back wins in Portland and Denver, there were rumblings of playoff talk.
Fast forward a month after that road trip and Ainge pulls off, what probably was the very last trade of the deadline at 2:59 PM EST for guard Isaiah Thomas, he was all about making the playoffs the moment the deal was announced. Before the new addition could even suit up and help make a run towards the postseason, we learned the Celtics current best player; Jared Sullinger would miss the remaining of the year with a metatarsal-stress fracture in his left foot.
So who are these scrappy Celtics and what has gotten them to this point?
Since February 23, they're a team that has gone 14-8, and 9-1 overall in back-to-backs this season. At 34-41, even Ainge can't help but be impressed with the identity that these guys have carved out for themselves, without a 'superstar' on the roster.
Even old friend Doc Rivers had nothing but high-praise for Ainge and what the Celtics have accomplished so far in only the second season of the 'rebuild.'
"I don’t know if I expected it or didn't -- I just think they’re ahead of all the other, quote-unquote, rebuilding teams because of all the things they have," Rivers said. "When you look at their team, they have good players, they have assets in players and youth, they have draft picks, and they have money. A lot of teams have one of those. None of the teams have all of those. I think Danny, what does he have, 1,200 draft picks over the next three years? Plus the players, plus the money. I think they’re set up to be pretty good pretty quick." [ESPN Boston]
Don't get me wrong, of course there are plenty of fans who would like nothing more than to build through the draft beginning this year, and have the C's not make the playoffs. With nine first-round draft picks and eight second-round draft picks that the Celtics could own through 2016, I don't blame them.
As it stands right now, Miami (34-41) and Boston are tied for the eighth seed with identical records, with the Heat owning the tie-breaker. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Celtics would not only miss the postseason on a technicality, but they would probably end up with the 10th or 11th worst record in the league (maybe higher) with ridiculous odds to win a top-five pick.
So in other words, how about you all just join Ainge (how ever true his sentiments are these days, you never know) and enjoy the next seven-games for whatever they're worth? The way I see it this brand of basketball is so much better than what we saw this time last year with the Celtics.
Spring is not only in the air in Boston once again, but so is playoff basketball talk. Not that I don't trust Ainge or anything, but I vote for the latter of a possible postseason berth rather than praying for plastic balls that never seem to bounce in the Celtics' favor
Isn't that a better story anyways?
Follow us on Twitter:@CausewayStreet