The Celtics were definitely the most surprising team last season, finishing 40-42 and making the playoffs as the 7 seed in a weak Eastern Conference.
This year, in what will be head coach Brad Stevens' third season, the Celtics will be primed for another playoff run.
Maybe a much deeper one this time around. But, it won't come without a little bit of help. Here's what the Green has to do to reach the playoffs once again.
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1. Make Isaiah Thomas starting PG
After coming to Boston shortly after the all-star break last year, Thomas quickly became a fan favorite. He was rewarded with Eastern Conference Player of the Week in his first week as a Celtic, and was a big part of the Celtics' playoff run.
Granted, it was a short stay as they were swept by the dominant Cavaliers but, the C's showed promise in that series and if Thomas can continue this upward trend, he could be a leader of this team late in the season.
2. Play small ball
Most teams in the NBA these days are centered around one or two superstars. The Cavs have Lebron James, the Warriors have Steph Curry, the Lakers with Kobe, the Heat with D-Wade. Not the Celtics.
If you watched this team at all last year, it didn't take much to realize that everyone on the team is a valuable piece to their success. The Celtics don't have a primary scorer like most teams have. Everyone is responsible for their job and if they do that, everything else should fall into place. The Celtics play as a team.
Teams in the NBA also have very big lineups, and big guys mean they can't run the floor as well. If the Celtics lineup is small, (Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Crowder, Lee), they'll be able to run the floor extremely well, and run the fast break in transition for easy buckets.
It will also benefit them on the defensive side of things too. Quick hands means more steals and more points.
3. Brad Stevens has to coach with a fearless attitude
Entering his third season as an NBA coach, Stevens now has to go in with the mindset that he has the best team in the league. If he believes that, his players will follow suit.
We saw toward the end of last season Boston came out with a type of confidence we haven't seen from them. That same confidence needs to carry over into this year as well. If Boston gets off on the right foot, there will be no looking back.
Stevens already has one of, if not the best basketball IQ for a coach in the league. We saw that time and time again last season, as Stevens would draw up a game winning play in the timeout, and it would be a new one each time. It really was incredible to watch.
Stevens has to have a fearless attitude, a new kind of swagger that he has the best team and the C's are unstoppable. If he does that, there's no telling where this team will end up.
Breaking down the division
There are 3 teams in the Atlantic division that we already know is nowhere close to being ready for the playoffs. Brooklyn, New york, and Philadelphia. the only team that could possibly challenge Boston would be Toronto.
But, they lost PF Amir Johnson to Boston themselves so they will be at a big disadvantage on the glass this season. Boston looks like the frontrunner to win this division and, if they do that, they could wind up as the 3 or 4 seed and, with home court advantage.
That would be huge for Boston as they have one of the most rowdiest, passionate crowds in the league.
Just "Do Your Job"
In the words of the New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, "Do Your Job". That's really as plain and simple as it gets. If Boston does their job, they should wind up back in the playoffs, and quite possibly advance to the late rounds.