I know I know, "we're onto 2018" ... "new year, new me"... blah blah blah, I don't care. 2017 was a year I won't forget for a while, and a year the Boston Celtics and their fans alike especially won't forget anytime soon.
Maybe it won't be remembered as the pinnacle of this new generation's success, but this past year was as instrumental as any in the reconstruction of the NBA's most-storied franchise. Highlighted by a pretty deep playoff run, a summer full of madness from signings to blockbuster trades, and the emergence as a true contender in the East amidst a revamped roster, these past 365 days have really been everything C's fans have wanted and more. You couldn't write this stuff.
Going back to last February, the 2016-2017 season trade deadline could've potentially been the day the first hat was to drop. But it wasn't. Marred by absolute silence on the Celtics front office's end, president Danny Ainge came under major scrutiny for not making a move to go out and get a stud to make a serious playoff run with his budding team.
You remember the deal, right? What was it again ... the 17' Brooklyn Nets pick (eventually the first overall pick in the draft), Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley for Paul George? How's that deal looking now you guys?
This would be the first sign that a lot of fans and supporters alike we're still not completely on board with Danny and co.'s plan going forward. The next time after this came during the opening round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls amidst the passing of Isaiah Thomas' sister, Chyna.
The team found itself in a very precarious situation heading into the matchup. Besides IT himself, many other players and even coaches found themselves struggling to focus on the task at hand especially with what one of their brothers, never mind the heartbeat of the team, had been dealing with.
Starting the series by dropping the first two games at home, Rajon Rondo looked to remind Celtics fans everywhere that revenge is a dish best served cold and probably would have had he not been injured. However missing the next three games with a wrist injury, the Bulls clearly missed his absence as they dropped all of them and then found themselves out of the playoffs by the end of Game 6 in which he played sparingly.
The Green continued their performance from the last four games of the opening round and took a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the John Wall-led Washington Wizards. Isaiah even put up a 53 spot in Game 2 but despite doing so, he couldn't break Washington's will as things didn't hold up for long as Scott Brooks' squad evened things up at home 2-2 before heading back to Boston.
In true Celtic fashion of late though, coach Brad Stevens and his team continued to surprise fans and did not let up. Refusing to be denied a trip to the Conference Finals, the series eventually came to a seventh game in Boston in which the home team, as it had the first four games of the series, eventually took the game.
Soon enough, it began to hit you. We made it the Conference Finals! Us ... the Celtics ... who had lost 57 games just three years before ... we we're in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Aspirations of grandeur entered the minds of fans everywhere, could this team maybe give LeBron James a run for his money? Is this team about to go to the NBA Finals already? ... Not quite.
We won't get into the details but it was ugly. Outside of Game 3 in which they still won on an Avery Bradley buzzer beater despite not having Isaiah Thomas, everything about the series was ugly if you were a fan of green. There was not much to be taken from what happened at all besides now better understanding how many oceans apart the Celtics still had felt from the Cleveland Cavaliers in terms of talent.
Danny Ainge clearly got the memo too because the summer that ensued may just go down as the single greatest off-season by an NBA general manager, ever.
Having already won the draft lottery on May 16th, Trader Danny did what he does best and made a deal, which at the time was expected to be the craziest of the summer (lolz).
Swapping the Brooklyn Nets draft rights aka the first overall pick (a.k.a. the second number one pick we won in 60 years) for the third overall pick from the Philadelphia 76ers and the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers 2018 first (with protections), the C's pretty much moved down two spots in the draft for another future first.
This left the whole city and even the most loyal "Green Teamers" in stitches.
How in hell after all these years of waiting for the ping pong balls to land our way was Danny gonna justify this one? For a lot of people ... he couldn't. "Idiotic" ... "one move too much" ... a lot of pundits and NBA experts alike thought that for the first time ever, Ainge was the swindled and not the swindler. Outkicking his coverage to many, there was a strong contingent of fans that wished he'd stay put.
Now look, Jayson Tatum wasn't the worst consolation prize there could be. A 19 year old stud out of Duke University who looked most ready to contribute to an NBA team, many felt the move was made because not only would this fit the teams needs as they are currently but Tatum would also be a piece to build for the future.
Alas ... nobody could understand Ainge's thought in not pairing Isaiah Thomas with fellow University of Washington alum, Markelle Fultz. As dramatic a move as it may have seemed at the time, this move didn't bare even close to the importance of the next few moves that we're to come the rest of the summer.
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