New Look Celtics are Fun to Watch

Jason Cooke

Over the past several seasons, the Boston Celtics have been trying to construct a team that will bring back an NBA Championship to Beantown. From having Isaiah Thomas put the city on his back, to Kyrie Irving disappointing fans, and now the beginning of the Kemba Walker era in Boston, general manager Danny Ainge has been trying to find the right piece to complete the puzzle. Of course, other small pieces such as the additions of Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter and developing stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown make a difference. More specifically however, it is clear that this year’s team has taken a big step in the right direction compared to last year’s squad.

Currently, the Celtics sit at third place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 33-15. At this time last season they were 34-19 according to basketballreference.com. Although those records do not appear to be much different, the team behind those records has changed drastically. If you ask any Celtics fan to describe last year’s season, there is a reasonably large chance they will mention how Kyrie Irving dismantled the team’s chemistry and created a toxic environment. When Kyrie Irving was traded to the C’s on August 22, 2017, many fans across the board thought an NBA championship was coming in the near future. Evidently, last season did not live up to that expectation.

Last season was a combination of Kyrie blaming losses on fellow teammates to the Celtics failing to play together. The whole entire season cannot be blamed on one player, but he definitely did not help the team at times where it was needed. Over the course of the season, they would get hot, then cold, and find themselves in this rhythm of inconsistency. When asked about the team, Kyrie would usually respond with controversial statements. According to CBS sports, Kyrie said after a loss to the Magic, “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team”. Blaming a team’s struggles on the younger players is not a good look for a player who was supposed to be a leader in that locker room. Throughout the season, the team did not appear to be having any fun or joy while playing, but were constantly frustrated with each other. Their season ended after getting handed to by the Bucks in the second round of the playoffs. After that series, fans were left with one question: What’s next?

The answer to that question could be, and most likely is, Kemba Walker. On July 1, 2019, Kemba Walker signed a four year maximum contract with the Celtics worth $141 million, according to nba.com. Ever since then, the team seems more connected and appears to be having more fun playing the game of basketball with each other as teammates. According to NESN, Walker said, “I’m looking forward to being a part of this organization and giving it 100 percent on each and every possession and play.” For Celtics fans to hear that was a relieving sign after dealing with Kyrie’s complicated and subjective comments the prior season. Not only is Kemba leading a young team to success, other key players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward have taken a large step from last year, all playing more confident and with more passion. According to ESPN, Tatum’s point per game average has risen by 6 points from last season, Brown’s average is up by 7, and Hayward’s average is up by 6 points. For the Celtics to be a winning team, the success of these players is crucial, and so far this season they are performing at a consistent basis. A reason for their outbreak is the overall feeling of comfort being on this energetic team that comes to the court with a positive mindset and a solid attitude every day, which wasn’t always seen last year.

The team has had many impressive wins this year to back it up. From coming back to beat the Bucks to destroying Lebron and the Lakers, the team has shown they can compete with the league’s best. Although this season is far from perfect, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that players and fans alike are looking forward to seeing. In regards to what that light is is unknown, but if the Celtics continue to play like a championship caliber team, the sky’s the limit.