Celtics Close Out Season of Change

The Celtics wrapped up the regular season last night with a loss to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

As with much of the season the Celtics had moments of competitiveness, but faded and eventually fell at the end.

They did what most people wanted them to do this season – lose – but perhaps didn’t even do enough of that. It was an odd season in many aspects. You had many fans and talk show hosts and columnists outright rooting (are they supposed to do that???) for the team to lose. Then had others in the media who were critical of the team for its effort and execution at times.

If you’re looking big picture, things look pretty good for this franchise. The stockpile of first round picks is well documented, they have a good shot at a top player this June should they choose to use their pick, have assets to trade if an opportunity presents itself (unlike many others, I’m not big on the Kevin Love bandwagon) and have some decent talent on the present roster to build around. They’ve also got a young coach who is already drawing praise from around the league, and who will no doubt use his first NBA season as a learning experience. They have a $10.3 million trade exception which can be used in a sign-and-trade or straight trade, but needs to be used before July 12.

In Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk they have two young players who at a minimum can be serviceable big men in the NBA. In his second season and coming off back surgery Sullinger averaged 13.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Olynyk had his ups and downs throughout the season, but in the last three games of the season he scored 25, 28 and 24 points.

They’ve got Rondo – whether they choose to keep him or use him as a trade asset. They have a decision to make on Avery Bradley, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, and who suffered through another injury-plagued season, but averaged 14.9 ppg in 60 games. Jeff Green remains maddeningly inconsistent, but he played all 82 games and led the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg. We’ve seen that he’s probably best suited to being a 3rd or 4th option on a club where he doesn’t have to be The Man, but can be a complementary piece. He could be used in a trade. Many of the other contracts on the team are designed to be flexible enough to use in a trade (non-guaranteed, year to year, etc).

It’s setting up to be a very interesting offseason, and while ownership promises “fireworks”, Danny Ainge just sees it as an offseason where there is a lot of work to be done.

I’m just glad that the games have been played, and we don’t have to hear about tanking and all the cute phrases that go along with it from the local sports radio and television wags.

While the season on the floor was tough, we got some great writing and coverage of the team this season. Baxter Holmes has done a terrific job with both features and the game-to-game coverage. He and Gary Washburn make a great duo for the Globe. At the Herald, Steve Bulpett and Mark Murphy did their usual outstanding job, with Bulpett remaining one of my favorite media personalities in town, and I consider him still somewhat underrated despite 30 years on the job. Jay King at MassLive.com is part of a tremendous young team at that website. Others on the beat – Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, and Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com all added insight and information to the season.

I think the Celtics beat overall is the best and most professionally covered of any of the four major sports in town. Very little bombast or “look at me” types here. The Celtics blogging community is passionate and strong as well, with sites like CelticsBlog and RedsArmy leading the way.

The broadcast teams – Mike Gorman remains the gold standard in town. He makes whomever is with him sound great. For some reason Tommy Heinsohn has detractors and critics who cringe at his enthusiasm and support of the franchise that he has been a part of for almost 60 years. I’ll defend him to the death. The guest analysts – P.J. Carlesimo, Jackie MacMullan, even Danny Ainge and Chris Herren each brought something to the telecasts. On the radio side, Sean Grande also had many partners thoughout the season as Cedric Maxwell at times also moved over to the television side. If there was a weak spot, this might be it. Bringing in the likes of Rich Keefe and Adam Jones to sit beside Grande was curious – though it was likely a cost-saving move to bring on someone already on the station payroll.

Overall it was a rough season on the court, but we can look forward to better times ahead, and for an eventful offseason.

  • mick

    Meanwhile the Bruins are going into the playoffs as the best team in hockey. But this is just a basketball town right? Way to have your thumb on the pulse.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      Thanks for the comment Mick.

      The Celtics season just ended, and this was putting it to bed. The Bruins are hopefully just starting on a 2 1/2 month second season in which they will get plenty of well-deserved attention.Not sure how this post is in anyway a slight on the Bruins.

      • mick

        I will look forward to the matchup review on the upcoming series with Detroit as well as an overview of the Bruins chances. Just like was done for the Celtics past years.

        • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

          Again, I’m not sure where this is coming from. Is your point that I don’t give as much attention to the Bruins as I do the Celtics? OK. Guilty. Doesn’t mean I’m anti-Bruins. If anything, I don’t know as much about the sport, having never played it, so I’m not as comfortable writing about it. If you want ill-informed opinions on the Bruins, I’m sure there are plenty of places to find them. I’m not going to give them here.

        • Joe

          Checkmate. This is why I keep coming back to this site

        • OpinionNotFact

          Couldn’t you just, ya know, go to a Bruins-centric site for such things?

        • bsmfan

          I think you’re mistaking this for a Boston Sports–all of them–blog. Bruce covers the media angles of what goes on here. Just because he hits on one or another means absolutely nothing. The intent of the post was a ‘closure’ to the season, as it is done for the Celtics. If you’re looking for the ‘sports’ part, it’s done on other outlets and blogs.

      • latetodinner

        Please Bruce…please do an in depth x’s and o’s breakdown of the Bruins. I can’t think of anything more stimulating (well other than an equally technical review of the past Celtics season). There is nothing we all want more than more Hockey talk. Hockeykrisna, Hockeykrishna….

  • Leo

    Mick, I like NESN’s coverage of the Bruins better than CSNNE. Felger might like the NHL, but his analysis is poor compared to Jaffe, Brickley and Barry Pedersen (or Dale). Bruce should get credit for being honest, which might have thrown you off.

  • Homer Greenz

    “We’ve seen that he’s (Green) probably best suited to being a 3rd or 4th option on a club”

    On a playoff team that exits in the first round or maybe the 2nd round in a weak conference, yes, but on a championship contender, no, Green is not a 3rd or 4th option. He’d be a bench player on a championship contender. A useful role player for sure, but more like a 5-8.

  • agramante

    I’d say, Bruce, that it’s not unethical for a columnist or talk-show host to root for or against a team. Now whether that’s a smart career choice in a given market–freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences–is another matter. But columnists and talk show hosts are not reporters. They’re paid to give their opinions. Now, they should have informed opinions, and they should have skill at delivering those opinions in their selected medium. We can debate both of the above in any given columnist/host. But I see nothing wrong in a person paid to render his or her opinion putting honest feelings behind the opinion. And that means rooting, for or against. Now, if you get too one-noted, or become too much of a homah (or anti-homah), then you run the risk of boring your audience and losing relevance. But once again, that’s merely the market rendering its verdict on the product.

    Reporters, on the other hand, have a responsibility not to root. Nobody anywhere is free of bias. There is bias in how you construct a sentence, what is the subject, object, and the specific verb. There is bias in the details a reporter does or does not include. But a reporter’s job is to make a sincere effort–and have enough skill that the sincere effort is of good quality–to accurately portray the facts of a situation. Those facts can be good for a team, such as leaked news of a big and coveted signing, or bad, such as an injury or reports of internal friction within the team. In those cases a reporter’s responsibility is to report the facts without respect to his own relationships. This is Red Sox fans’ legitimate beef with the local reporters who squelched the team dysfunction in 2012.

    Now if Eck or Rice were to start going off on the Sox now, for bad offseason decisions and lazy play, they could certainly do so. They’re paid to give opinions. But whether NESN would want them on the air for long if they kept doing that…well, that would fall under the category of a business decision, I suppose. But not one based on ethics.

    • tiki

      This is preciesly why it always bothered me that the non-journalists got press access to the games.