After an offseason that was largely overshadowed by the movement of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the Clippers, the Celtics also saw themselves transforming their roster. With the addition of Kemba Walker and the dismissal of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics were deeming a middle-of-the-pack team. However, after their gritty performance yesterday against the Clippers in which was saw Jason Tatum knock down a game-tying three-pointer with 17 seconds left to force overtime, it can be said unequivocally that this team is legit.
In their first season with Los Angeles, injury and rehab had prevented Leonard and George from playing alongside each other for the first 14 games. This game marked the first time they would step on the floor together as teammates in an NBA game. Rust was certainly evident for these new teammates as they each accounted for 5 turnovers, but at the end of the day, it was the defense of Leonard that brought them a victory.
With time winding down on the clock and the Clippers up 3, the Celtics drew up a play following a timeout that would leave Kemba Walker in the corner facing a game-tying three….and the mighty hand of Leonard who was able to swat the ball out of midair and end any chance of a Celtics' come from behind win.
Despite the loss, the Celtics, who stand atop the Eastern Conference, demonstrated that they can hang in the ring for 12 rounds with the elite teams of the national basketball association. I think this team is tough, has great personal, and is a force who should not be slept on. With Brad Stevens at the helm, a quirky and confident coach who has demonstrated poise and the ability to draw up successful plays in crunch time with surely lead this team to the playoffs and more.
I would not be surprised to see this team make a push deep into the Eastern Conference Finals and maybe make the NBA finals. Yes, they may be in June, but this team is playing at a level now that shows they are ready for the limelight and hungry for competition. All I'm going to say is don't sleep on the Celtics now. When they are lighting up teams in the postseason you can follow up with this article and here me say, "I told you so."