By: Chris Czachor, student journalist
The Celtics earned valuable experience in the 2016 post-season. They won their first two playoff games since 2012. Unfortunately, that was not enough for them to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, as they fell to the Atlanta Hawks 104-92 in game six to end the season. Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens vows that his team will get better this offseason.
“We’re going to be better the next time we take the court,” said Stevens.
The Celtics struggled in the first half of this game, much like they did during the rest of the series. They were held to 33 points total in the first half. The Hawks also struggled early, but they would not be contained for long. They came out hot in the second half, scoring 39 points in the third quarter. The Celtics made it interesting at the end of the game, going on a 22-6 run and cutting the lead to ten, but it was too little too late for the team as they could not completely eliminate the deficit in the end. Orono resident Peter Roy says that the slow start in the first half doomed the Celtics.
“The Celtics needed to come out to a hot start to compete in the game. They are a second half team, but the deficit that they built up in the first half was too much to overcome. It’s time to take a big step forward in the offseason,” said Roy.
It is no secret that the Celtics will need to make a few key additions to their team in order to win in the playoffs next season. The team is in a good position to do so, with three first round draft picks lined up for next season, including the Brooklyn Nets pick that could land anywhere between first overall and sixth overall. The Celtics will look to either draft the best available player, or package the pick together with a few other pieces and send them away in exchange for a proven superstar. Throughout the season, the Celtics have also been linked to just about every possible big name free agent, including the biggest name of all that might be available, Kevin Durant.
A series win began to look improbable for Boston when Celtics guard Avery Bradley went down with a hamstring injury in game one. The team fell short in both of the first two games in Atlanta, but was able to scrap their way to two big wins in Boston behind clutch performances from Isaiah Thomas. After game four, Atlanta started trapping Thomas whenever he had the ball in a scoring position, and this proved to be a deciding factor in the series. The Hawks forced the ball out of the hands of Boston’s best scorer and dared some of Boston’s less experienced players to beat them. This lead to even more offensive struggles for the Celtics. The team seemingly did not have an answer, as they lost the final two games of the series in convincing fashion.
Although the end of an exciting season brings immediate pain, in the long run this team is better for it. They have even more playoff experience under their belt, and the amenities to lure a big name player their way. Fans will have to pay close attention to the Celtics this offseason.