The craziness of March Madness has overshadowed the NBA and the push for the playoffs, but for a good reason. The NCAA tournament is one of the most exciting sports events of the year, with upsets and heroics galore. Around this time of the year comparisons between the college game and the NBA game are made. Some people say the NBA is better due to its level of talent, while others laud the NCAA for its unpredictability and creativity. If you want the best of both worlds, look no further than the 2015-2016 Boston Celtics.
Currently, the Boston Celtics are fourth in the Eastern Conference standings at 45-32, and last Friday they pulled out a huge win over the Golden State Warriors, ending the Dubs’ historic win streak in Oracle Arena at 54 games. While the Boston Celtics have not etched themselves into the East’s top echelon, they have shown flashes of greatness. They managed to snag the second seed for a couple of weeks earlier in the season. Just like all NCAA teams in March, the Celtics are looking to make some magic happen in their postseason, as they can contend with any team in the East.
One of the reasons behind the Celtics’ success is coach Brad Stevens, who knows a little something about being doubted. Before being signed by the Celtics in 2013, Stevens led his fifth-seeded Butler Bulldogs to the 2010 NCAA Championship. Stevens has been recognized for his creative coaching style, with his inbounds plays being a particular trademark. His coaching style allows the Celtics to remain even-keeled, similar to the atmosphere top college teams maintain.
Boston’s level of competency across the board is a huge factor in how well they’ve played. Though there isn’t necessarily a bona fide, polarizing superstar as leader, each player fills a role on the team. This gives the Celtics’ a level versatility that is one of their key strengths, eerily similar to your favorite Final Four candidate. The closest the Celtics have to a star is 5’9 dynamo Isaiah Thomas, an incredible scorer and playmaker. Thomas is averaging 22.3 points per game and 6.3 assists per game, which helped him become an All-Star for the first appearance in his career. However, he’s only one cog in the machine the Celtics are trying to build. Contributions come from all over the roster in Boston, from 3-and-D aces Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder to big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, as well as role players like Marcus Smart.
The Celtics have quite a ways to go if they want to seriously challenge the Cavs and the Raptors in the East, but they could be a force to be reckoned with. When Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded in 2013, it was supposed to mark a rebuilding era in Beantown. With General Manager Danny Ainge working the trade market and hauling in draft picks like the maniac he is, Boston is still in a great position to get a lot better over the next couple of years. Despite contending for home court advantage in the playoffs, they have the luxury of a most likely top five pick in the upcoming draft, courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets. A college stud like Buddy Hield possibly heading to Boston next season? Talk about madness.