Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Kyrie Irving sought a trade from Cleveland because he wanted more locker room leadership and off-court responsibilities. He’ll get his opportunity. Gordon Hayward is no longer a standout player on an overshadowed team in Utah. He is a maximum-contract player on a team with aspirations of reaching the NBA Finals, so he will be relied upon to lead along with Irving.
But nothing at this point is certain, and Ainge is OK with that.
“So when we acquired Isaiah, nobody knew he was going to be this Isaiah,” Ainge said. “Going into it nobody knew he was going to be the player that he was last year. When we got Jae Crowder in the trade for [Rajon] Rondo, nobody knew who Jae Crowder was. They just knew he didn’t play very much in Dallas.
“You have to let these things transpire. It doesn’t do any good to talk about it or predict who they are going to be. You have to let them earn who they are going to be. Part of that is earning their teammates’ trust and their coach’s trust, like Isaiah and Jae did. That’s what’s sort of exciting; there’s a new and fresh energy from having some new faces around and there’s a lot of excitement and optimism and it’s fun to be around right now.”
“I’m excited, no question, as I said, you can feel it,” Ainge said. “You can feel the energy here at our practice facility, you can see it in guys that are trying out for the [G-League], guys that are going to play major roles on our team this year, young and old, you can just see the energy that exists around here and it’s good. It’s exciting. I’m excited to get the season started and see how it all works.”
In that quote, Danny almost sounds like a fan. Because just like us, he’s been waiting years to reach this point in the rebuild, where Boston is seen as a legitimate contender to make the NBA Finals. Danny has been more patient than everyone, so he’s probably also more ready than anyone to see the results.
Expectations around the Celtics are the highest they’ve been in at least five or six years. As a fan, I feel that pressure. It makes me tense and exhilarated at the same time. Like Danny, like you, I can’t wait for it to begin.
Opening night is 30 days away.
On Page 2: Speaking of expectations…
After adding Irving and Gordon Hayward, Boston is the fashionable pick to overtake Cleveland as the East’s new powerhouse. The story of its turnaround the past few seasons is remarkable, and Danny Ainge’s front office showed this past summer that it was not satisfied with merely making an appearance in the conference finals. This is an almost entirely new team, and it will be dealing with high expectations. By the end of the season, the Celtics hope to be a well-oiled machine that can do better than last year’s team did in a potential rematch with the Cavs. If Cleveland is healthy, though, few would pick Boston to slow James down enough to win more than a couple of games.
There are questions about how Irving will change his game and how the young guys will develop, but Boston is the safest bet in terms of challenging the Cavs now and sustaining success over the next five years. If another star becomes available on the trade market, how many teams can outbid Ainge?
Although it says “few would pick Boston to slow James down enough to win more than a couple of games,” that means, YES, there are some observers who would pick the Cs to win a series versus Cleveland!
Even if the Celtics can’t beat the Cavs, the season will still be a success if they go further than last year. That would consist of at least forcing a Game 6 or 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, and not trailing by 50 damn points at any time in the series. Because even if Boston loses, LeBron will be one year older – and perhaps also on his way out the door of Quicken Loans Arena toward free agency.
And, finally: In an alternate universe…
“A Sound of Thunder” is a short story by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury in which a time-traveler – despite being warned not to change the past – accidentally kills a butterfly. When the traveler returns to the present, he finds a different world than the one he left. He realizes that the butterfly’s death has caused a ripple effect throughout time, resulting in an alternate universe.
So who’s to say this couldn’t have happened?
Wonder if Hayward has watched the analysis of how close he came to really making the shot? It might help him for next time.
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