Friday, May 1, 2015

2014-15 Season in Review

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Another Boston Celtics season in the books, despite getting swept in four games to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, there are still lots to take away from an unexpected playoff berth during year-two of the rebuild. Here at Causeway Street we're looking back at the positives that was the 2014-15 season here in Boston. Plus we predict the long awaited NBA MVP race winner and who will be holding the Larry O'Brien trophy come June.

Here's what we said in our season wrap-up

Josue Pavón [@Joe_Sway10]:

Celtics MVP: Isaiah Thomas

Very few players can join a team at the trade deadline and instantly make them one of the hottest teams in the league, most players just want to do their best to fit in. When Isaiah Thomas joined the Celtics in February he gave his new team instant offense off the bench. And what made him this season's the most valuable player for the Celtics was how contagious his offense was. All of a sudden Avery Bradley and Evan Turner were on hot streaks, and the three led the C's to a playoff berth. Thomas even missed a couple of weeks, and Jared Sullinger nearly missed the rest of the season, shortly after Thomas was acquired. But that didn't stop the Celtics from winning. And when Thomas came back, he picked up right where he left off. Without Thomas the Celtics don't make the playoffs. There wasn't another Celtic who was more valuable this season.

Best Celtics Moment of the Season: Celtics vs Memphis Grizzlies [3.11.15] C's win 95-92 @ TD Garden

After losing Isaiah Thomas to a back injury he suffered in Miami, the Celtics came home from their mini road trip to face one of the best defensive teams in the league. After the Grizzlies opened up a decent third quarter lead, the Celtics came roaring back and fought in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, and finished off the Grizzlies by sharing the ball and hitting big shots down the stretch. Marcus Smart, who wasn't shooting the ball very well that night, hit a huge go-ahead three-pointer while falling down (ref missed the foul), and Avery Bradley hit a big jumper, as the shot clock expired at the top of the key after Memphis cut the Celtics lead to 1. Even though the Grizzlies had a chance to tie it up with 8 seconds left you knew it wasn't going to happen. The C's stole the momentum, surprised the Grizzlies and you knew Bradley's jumper was the knockout punch. It was a great game that didn't include a huge comeback, C's never fell far behind and proved they can keep up with the best for 48 minutes, even when their best player wasn't available. After this game, Mike Gorman tweeted out about the Celtics "We're all witnessing something special," and he was right. Even though it wasn't #Celticsin6 over the Cavs special, it was what I believe was a turning point in the season. Where Celtics' playoff aspirations were born.

Bold prediction for the Celtics next season: C's become Finals contenders

Celtics become a top-5 team in the east. Danny Ainge will bring in an impact player and a role player who will be enough to push the Celtics to the the Eastern Conference Finals.

League MVP: Steph Curry

In a career defining season, Steph Curry led his team to the best record (67-15) in the NBA and wow'd everyone with eye-popping performances. He averaged 23.8 points and 7.7 assists. And scored 30+ points 17 times, including a 51-point season-high against Dallas. But what makes Curry so valuable is that in one season he's turned into the most feared player at the end of the fourth quarter. He's pushed the Warriors passed some of the best teams while leading a team that has only lost 15 games since the beginning of November. At age 27, Curry is in his prime and will only get better. He's in his seventh season and is a favorite to not only win the MVP award but to also lead his team to an NBA Championship.

2015 NBA Champion: Golden State

Throughout the first round of the playoffs the Warriors have proven that they're still the toughest team in the league. Golden State is a tough out because of MVP Steph Curry and because of their strong frontcourt. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut can defend the post and make things easier for the high scoring backcourt. The Warriors will most likely beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals or any other team from the Eastern Conference. They're that good.

Sean Dutra [@SeanDutra]:

Celtics MVP: Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder was not a consistent starter, nor was he in the Celtics uniform for the entire year, but he still sticks out as my Celtics MVP. The Rajon Rondo trade was controversial at the time because people thought we could have gotten a bigger haul for the All Star point guard. Brandon Wright, Jameer Nelson, and the aforementioned Crowder accompanied a first round draft pick and was shipped to Boston. At the time Wright was seen as the big name player in the return, but Crowder would emerge as the star. He single handedly won us the Rondo trade, and then was a key cog into our run to the playoffs.

Crowder earned his minutes with intense defense, work ethic, and a tenacity to drive that paired well with his steady three point shot. He averaged 9.5 PPG, but was really the lynch pin in the Celtics second half success. At the end of games it was him and Isaiah Thomas who would routinely be called upon for the big shot. Defensively, Brad Stevens was able to change the way the entire team defended when Crowder was on the floor. He guarded the opposing teams guards and forwards or anyone Stevens asked. From Dwayne Wade to LeBron James to Al Jefferson, Crowder was asked to guard and in most times shut down who he was up against.  He doesn’t have eye popping numbers but is definitely going to be a huge piece to the Celtics future,  and without Crowder the Celtics would not have made the playoffs, and that’s why he is my MVP.

Best Celtics Moment of the Season: Isaiah Thomas Trade [2.19.15]

3 PM  on Thursday  Feb 19th. The trade deadline had come and gone and the Celtics had no big moves that had been reported. And then, about 10 minutes after the deadline the deal that would give the Celtics the piece they needed was announced. Isaiah Thomas was coming to Boston.  At this point of the season, the Celtics were a scrappy team that had lofty, and potentially in achievable goals of the playoffs. They lacked a game changer and someone they could ask to close out close games. Thomas was just that, and he showed it right off the bat against his old team the Phoenix Suns, famously sealing the game with a three and coldly staring  down his former teammates. From that point on, he was a Celtic and his arrival was definitely the best moment of the year.

Bold Prediction for the Celtics next season: Trade for Boogie Cousins

I’ve been on the DeMarcus Cousins to Boston train for a looonng time. This is the year though I think they can pull it off. Sullinger, Bradley, and a Celtics first rounder this year and next year’s Brooklyn Pick. That’s the package to get it done. The Kings would have to at least consider that deal. The Brooklyn pick will be a lottery pick next year and Sullinger and Bradley are both solid young players that would fill the void of Cousins' production. I want to keep Marcus Smart in Boston, but if it’s a deal breaker I would include him instead of Bradley.  I’m waiting for the explosion that should come around mid-June where Cousins demands out of Sacramento, and Danny Ainge will be at his doorstep with roses, chocolates, and a Celtics uniform.

League MVP: James Harden.

It’s either him or Steph, but when you look at everything. If you take Harden off the Rockets they are a lottery team in the East. There’s no bearded brothers on the Rockets. The Splash Brothers are a legit 1-2 punch, while Harden is the 1-2 punch on his own. Love Curry, he definitely deserves MVP but Harden deserves it just a smidgeon more.

NBA Champion:  L.A. Clippers

I  have a feeling they are going to knock off the Spurs in this vital game seven, then just demolish the rest of the West. If you beat the Spurs, you literally can beat any team in the NBA.  Also Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan have all stepped their games up in the playoffs which is why I have them taking home the trophy. This is such a Doc Rivers type team filled with solid role players and the flair for the dramatic, love watching them play. CP3 will get finals MVP.

Joel Pavón [@CausewayStreet]:

Celtics MVP: Evan Turner

Valuable being the key term here, Evan Turner's versatility can not be over or under estimated. The swingman had his best year as a pro during a season where no one knew what to expect from him or the Celtics in general. Averaged a career-high in assists (5.5) and became the team's best passer and primary ball-handler. Turner recorded 3-triple-doubles (the only ones as a pro) in a C's uniform. His ability to run the point, rebound and score can't be overlooked as there would be no postseason without Turner in the picture. No disrespect to Marcus Smart, but Turner ran Brad Stevens offense better than any other point guard on the team. Can't forget the many clutch/game winners this season that Turner made happen as well. It's fair to say he's found a home here in Boston.

Best Celtics Moment of the Season: Celtics vs Toronto Raptors [4.5.15] C's win 117-116 in OT at the Air Canada Centre

In a back and forth playoff atmosphere type game up north, the Celtics needed this win in Toronto to get back into the postseason picture, after losing the night before at home to the Bucks and were the ninth seed again. The Raptors also came off of a lost, and were looking to beat the C's for the third straight time. The Celtics rallied in the fourth quarter to not only force an extra five minutes, but Brad Stevens drew up a play for Isaiah Thomas, but instead it ended up in the hands of rookie Marcus Smart, who had hit a go-ahead 3 in regulation. Without even thinking, after Thomas got the ball knocked out of his hands with less than 2 seconds left in OT, Smart recovered it and put up a layup off the backboard just as time expired for the win! The C's never looked back as they climbed to the seventh seed and won the next five games to officially clinch a playoff berth.

Bold Prediction for the Celtics Next Season: Danny Ainge lands a top-tier and a second-tier free agent

Celtics find a way to sign a low-post all-star free agent like LaMarcus Aldridge and another underrated scorer like Tobias Harris. Ainge is always looking to bring in players no one is really talking about (i.e. Jae Crowder, Tyler Zeller and Evan Turner), but this time around aside from a player under the radar sort of speak and superstars, Danny will land one of each and push this team to contender status in one summer. Think about it, with money to spend, and the potential to get rid of Gerald Wallace's $10.1 million dollar contract this offseason will be huge in the grand scheme of things. Plus when the new TV deal for the NBA kicks in at the start of the 2016 season, the future looks even brighter.

League MVP: James Harden

No other player in the NBA has done more with less than Harden. Houston captured the second seed, with an injured-prone Dwight Howard, no true point guard, and no second top-scorer. Harden has done it all; run the offense, lead the team in assists, rebound and been pretty healthy at the same time. Considering if he weren't, we aren't talking about the Rockets in the playoffs right now, as McHale would have to rely on Jason Terry and Josh Smith to lead this team, not a pretty picture. Though this Harden-led team is still a ways from being true contenders out in the wild wild west, it's been impressive what he's accomplished with the supporting cast he has.

NBA Champion: San Antonio

They will get by the Clippers in Game 7, because the Spurs don't have two bad games back-to-back, especially when Pop calls you out and tells you that you should be embarrassed on how you played the game of basketball. It's plain and simple, Tim Duncan at age 39 is still on a mission, and everyone better get out of his way. Despite being a 'low' seed, they will be the second team (since the 95 Rockets) to repeat after entering the playoffs as sixth in the Western Conference.

Adrian Mendoza [@Doza321]:

Celtics MVP: Brad Stevens 

I know, he's not a player, but with the way he lead the team to an fierce 2nd half of the season after trading away Rondo & Jeff Green, Stevens deserves it. To finish fourth in the COY voting is saying something in this league especially if you finish ahead of Pop in San Antonio

Best Celtics Moment of the Season: Celtics vs Utah Jazz [3.5.15] C's win on Tyler Zeller's game winning layup at the buzzer 

Home win against the Utah Jazz at the TD Garden. Brad Stevens drew up an incredible inbounds play to get Tyler Zeller (of all people) the game-winning basket showed the league that the Celtics were a force to be reckoned with and there were great things to come in the next month of the regular season.

Bold prediction for the Celtics next season: Ainge will trade for an all-star this offseason

Danny Ainge will trade multiple draft picks for an All-Star. Will Boogie be down with our productions (no, KRS fans out there??) ? Is Cousins the Celtics savior for next season, only time will tell.

League MVP: Steph Curry

The Baby-faced Assassin killed it all year long, but his team will not make it to the NBA Finals unfortunately because of father time; Tim Duncan

NBA Champion: San Antonio

Be a hard fought Western Conference Finals, but Pop will be too much for Steve Kerr to handle, coaching wise. Spurs on a mission to repeat as champions, sorry Dub nations and all the other haters. 

Who's your Celtics MVP and best moment of this season? Check out our piece from a year ago by clicking on the link below to see if any of our predictions came true in 2015

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter:@CausewayStreet

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