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It was close but no cigar for the Celtics this year. Despite finishing top in both division and

conference, the Celtics were undone by a strong Cleveland Cavaliers side that was

searching for their third NBA finals appearance in many years. Although they couldn’t didn’t

quite manage a champagne year, their record was still excellent and the big question now is

whether they can turn their form into success.


Boston’s pre-season results were solid and the draft looked promising, with the Celtics

enjoying 3 rd pick in the first draft round, bringing in University of California small forward

Jaylen Brown, Frenchman Guerschon Yabusele and Croatian Centre Ante Žižić. The first

couple of months were a mixed bag of results but luckily everyone else in the division was in

the same boat, with no one pulling away. In fact, the Celtics run of results was so up and

down, their 52-29 record was the lowest top spot finish in conference history.


Despite a strong finish and the last 4 years under Brad Stevens being pretty rocky for the

Celtics, there is still a lot to do to try and close the gap between them and the Cavaliers.

They were ok in the playoffs before the Cavs denied them an NBA finals appearance,

something that Stevens will certainly need to address next season.


Stevens had the difficult but certainly not unenviable task of managing the minutes for his

young stars, as opposed to relying on his veterans to win matches. Along with Jaylen Brown,

Stevens pushed Marcus Smart and Terry Rosier into the fray, with their stats certainly

showing they were ready for the big time. Talents who have slowly blossomed under

Stevens such as Jordan Crawford and Evan Turner came into their own this year and of

course Isaiah Thomas showed his pedigree once again, picking up another NBA all-star

accolade after another great season.


The thing that really showed this season is that the Celtics are undergoing a big change

process and it seems to be going in the right direction. Their first draft pick in Jayson Tatum

looks very strong and the Celtics overall recruitment strategy is looking promising.

It would be a wise move to expect the Celtics to replicate their success again next season,

but of course the bookmakers will still be favouring the Cavs to be the best team in the East.

Full basketball options can be found at 888Sport, including preseason offers and of course in

play odds on a variety of outcomes.


The Celtics just managed to squeeze past the Wizards in the first round of play-off games,

needing the full 7 games to line up a conference final against the Cavs, but Cleveland

dominated the series 4-1. The Celtics looked like they were miles off dominating in post-

season and this is where Brad Stevens needs to apply the focus, possibly bringing in some

experience to ensure that the Celtic’s have both options and drive in the tough end of year

games.


The big shift that needs to happen now is for the Celtics to go from good to great, focusing

on winning the conference in the playoffs and not in regular season play. It will be interesting

to see which tactics the Celtics coaching team will deploy if they manage another playoffs

appearance next season.

Staff 6/27/2017 12:04:00 PM Edit
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