Image C/O: sportsbookwire.usatoday.com
Coming back from the All-Star break, the Celtics looked to turn their season around, but it hasn’t been well-executed thus far.
Their first game back on the court took place in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center where a healthy Celtics team took the floor with defensive mastermind Marcus Smart returning from his calf strain that left him out since January 30th against the Lakers. The Celtics kept it together through the bout but were unable to stop former teammate and All-Star PG Kyrie Irving who dropped 40pts and carried the Nets to a 121-109 win against his former team.
The Celtics remain on the road and fly to Houston who were struggling at the time on a fifteen game losing streak. The Celtics started slow but picked up the pace very quickly. Tatum and Brown finished the game with a combined 47 points as the team soared above the Rockets in a 134-107 blowout victory in Houston. This big win snapped the C’s 7-away game losing streak.
In another big game, the first seed Utah Jazz head over to Boston on quite the inconsistent stretch coming off of their dominant winning streak where they had beaten the Celtics prior. Keeping the game close, the Celtics were leading by two at the end of the third quarter but were unable to close out. NBA Superstar Donovan Mitchell and crew beat out the C’s with a 117-109 defeat for Boston.
Following the heartbreaking loss, the Celtics go on the road and lose another close game to Cleveland getting edged out 117-110 without PG Kemba Walker. Following the Cleveland loss, the Celtics fall once again to the Sacramento Kings at the Garden with a 107-96 point final. These are crucial wins that exploit the C’s inconsistencies throughout the season and surely don’t help their placement in the standings.
Orlando found their way to the Garden this past Sunday in an afternoon game that looked like a stepping stone in the right direction for Boston. SG Jaylen Brown was lights-out hitting 10 threes and finishing the game with 34 points as the C’s defeat the Magic in a 112-96 battle. Following the game, Magic PF Aaron Gordon requested a trade from Orlando.
Sunday night, the Celtics traveled to Memphis on a back-to-back where they took on the Grizzlies Monday evening in a game riddled with injuries for Boston. PG Kemba Walker was out as he sits back-to-backs to preserve his knee, and All-Star SF Jayson Tatum was out due to illness. After a hot Sunday afternoon, SG Jaylen Brown looked to lead the team in this back-to-back affair. He ended scoring 26pts in an OT thriller loss to Memphis. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks combine for 53 points leading Memphis past the Celtics with a final score of 132-126.
Looking ahead, the trade deadline is on Thursday and although Danny Ainge isn’t quite the GM to throw assets around at this time, the Celtics have been involved with quite a few players. Earlier in the year, there were talks that the Celtics were involved with SG JJ Redick and trying to acquire him. Redick, currently a Pelican, is a veteran shooter who has played for numerous teams. He currently is on a $13 million dollar contract, but would be a bench player that the Celtics could definitely use.
Another veteran that the Celtics could possibly be involved with would be PF LaMarcus Aldridge. One of the weaker spots on this Celtics roster would be at the PF/C position and for the right price, LaMarcus Aldridge could be a useful asset to the team. If the team waits long enough, the Spurs would likely buy out Aldridge which would could save assets in the long run if the Celtics target him.
Some bigger names on the market include that of Magic PF Aaron Gordon. With the Gordon Hayward trade exception from Charlotte, and the current Celtics salary situation, the team can absorb Aaron’s contract and send $3 million back to Orlando in the deal. Aaron Gordon would fit the team well; he is a very versatile player and is only 25 years old. Boston would be a great spot for him to land, but he is a very big name on the market.
It is also rumored that the Celtics are trying to acquire the Hawk’s PF John Collins who has had quite the season thus far. Collins is averaging 18.2 PPG shooting 53.8% from the field, along with 7.8 rebounds. Collins is a very hot on the market as other teams are pursing him as well. It is rumored that Sacramento, Detroit, Minnesota and Dallas are heavily interested in Collins as well. If Collins ends up in Boston, he could be the saving grace for the season and hopefully bring the team to that next level.
The trade deadline is quite an exciting time through the league, but for Celtics fans, it can be hard to get excited. There are numerous times Danny Ainge could have furthered the team’s success in previous years, but he loves to hold onto assets. When it comes to the Celtics schedule, the C’s remain on a road trip facing Milwaukee twice in days to come, but return home for a seven game home stretch starting on the 29th. Maybe by then, there will be a new looking team warming up on the parquet.