It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks are killing it in the Eastern Conference, but the Boston Celtics are sitting in second and biding their time. Though the Celtics may not be getting their share of the spotlight while trailing the Bucks by seven games, they’ve actually got the third-best record in the league right now. The loss of Kyrie Irving and the addition of Kemba Walker will certainly benefit the Celtics in the long run, and their assortment of young players, including Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, has proven critical to this team’s chemistry. Over the next month, the Celtics may just make some trades to boost their postseason chances. Here’s a look at Boston’s key players and trade rumors.
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Filling the Void of Irving… and Al Horford and Terry Rozier
Kyrie Irving, the star hybrid point guard and shooter, played with the Celtics just two seasons following his stint in Cleveland with Lebron. Irving had his fair share of drama during his time in Boston, criticizing his younger teammates and holding frustrated interviews with the press, before leaving the team for Brooklyn this summer. And when the Nets and the Celtics met this November, Boston fans let Irving know just what they thought of him with chants of “Where’s Kyrie?” and “Irving sucks.” The Celtics proceeded to defeat the Nets 121-110 in front of a riled up, sold-out crowd at TD Garden.
Boston improved their roster with the addition of Kemba Walker at point guard. Walker, one of the few stars of the Charlotte Hornets, made his move to the Celtics during the offseason last year. And so far, Walker is thriving with the Celtics, leading the team in scoring and assists, currently averaging 22.5 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Word is that the 29-year-old is happy in his new city too, enjoying winning games and bringing a certain amount of cohesiveness to this young Celtics team.
Despite losing Al Horford to the Sixers and Terry Rozier to the Hornets as well, the Celtics have retained their core in players like Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Jayson Tatum. In Irving’s absence, the 23-year-old Brown has absolutely flourished, hitting career highs in nearly every stat. Seriously, he’s averaging 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, not to mention, he’s shooting 52.1% when it comes to field goals and 40.8% from the three-point line.
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Boston Trade Rumors?
The Celtics have a great rookie class of new additions, including first-round picks Romeo Langford and Grant Williams and second-rounders like Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters, and Tacko Fall. Fans love them, and they’re point-scorers and ball handlers who contribute to the team’s success. Unfortunately, these guys may not get to stick together for long as they might become good trade options for the Celtics later this month, particularly Waters.
The Celtics are in the market for a big man or a sharpshooter, or ideally, a combination of the two. While Andre Drummond rumors have been shut down because the Celtics don’t have the free salary cap space, a viable alternative might be the Wizards’ David Bertans. Lots of teams are asking about Bertans though, including the Lakers, Hawks, Nuggets, and Sixers.
Then again, this Celtics team appears to have great chemistry – the guys in the locker room actually like each other, something that couldn’t be said of last year’s squad. The coaches and staff will have to weigh how much that’s worth before making a trade. Word is that players like Hayward, Brown, Tatum, and Marcus Smart are off the table. Guess we’ll have to wait and see when the trade deadline rolls around in February!
Recent Injuries and Illness
Walker has missed three games with the flu. (What is it with these NBA players and the flu? Do they not get flu shots?) Lacking the point guard’s presence, the Celtics fell to the Washington Wizards, one of the worst teams in the league, though they were able to win games over the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls without him. Langford is also day-to-day with a similar sort of illness. Meanwhile, center Robert Williams II is out with hip issues, recently undergoing an MRI and meeting with specialists to determine how to proceed.
The Celtics will take on the Spurs tonight in Boston before hitting the road to battle the Sixers. Then they’ll return home to TD Garden for three games in a row to play the Pelicans, Bulls, and Pistons. Get your Celtics tickets now!