Five New Year's Resolutions for the Boston Celtics
The New Year will be ushered in soon, and with it comes the usual resolutions for self-improvement.
You know, working out more and losing weight, that sort of thing. A resolution that’ll last two, maybe three days tops for many.
But the idea of focusing on ways to be better is a good one for all of us. Including the Boston Celtics who haven’t exactly played according to script this season.
And with that, here are a few New Year’s Resolutions they should adopt for 2019.
The Celtics have been a bad rebounding team most of this season, currently ranked 19th in the league with a 49.9 rebounding percentage. If there’s one thing they improve upon that will dramatically make them a better team, this is it. Controlling the boards allows them to get out and run offensively, while controlling the game’s tempo at the other end of the floor. For this to happen, Boston’s guards have to make attacking the glass more of a priority. We’ve seen it in spurts from Kyrie Irving, but we need to see it more from Terry Rozier (12, pictured) -- who last year was one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA -- as well as from Marcus Smart.
One of the biggest issues that has plagued this team for large chunks of this season has been effort. Not that it's bad effort, but rather not enough great effort. And there's a distinction between the two. The effort exerted early on by Boston would have been enough to win games a year ago, when the Celtics were up-and-comers. But now, as a front-runner, they have to ratchet things up. By and large, that wasn’t happening the first couple months of the season. Lately, though, the effort has been consistently higher, which is one of the reasons they've won 11 of their last 15 after stumbling along at .500 through their first 20 games. Boston will need to be even better in 2019 to live up to the lofty billing of being an elite, title-contending team.
WHO'S NUMBER 2?
The search for who will be the team’s No. 2 scorer appears to be a two-man race between Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris. Tatum's had some ups and downs and hasn't been able to take over games anywhere close to what we saw last season. Morris, meanwhile, has not only worked his way into significant minutes, but has become a viable scoring option alongside Kyrie Irving. He has been Boston’s most consistent performer at both ends of the floor all season, averaging a career-best 15.4 points per game along with career highs in rebounding (6.2), field goal percentage (50.0), 3-point shooting (43.7 percent) and free throw shooting (89.5).
GOOD HEALTH FOR THE BIGS
Boston's had its share of injuries, but has been hit particularly hard at the big positions. Al Horford (patellofemoral pain syndrome, left knee) was sidelined for seven games. Backup Aron Baynes (fourth metacarpal fracture, left hand) has missed the last five games with the injury and 10 total this season. And rookie Robert Williams III has a series of injuries that have slowed him down, the latest being a left groin strain that has kept him sidelined for two games. The Celtics have also been without Daniel Theis (six games with a right plantar fascia tear) and Guerschon Yabusele (five games with right ankle sprain). Keeping most of their bigs healthy the rest of the way will be huge in their quest to keep climbing in the Eastern Conference standings.
EMBRACE THE JOURNEY
When the season began, Celtics players talked openly about getting to the NBA Finals. But few knew how hard and daunting a journey it would be. This team has already experienced a slew of disappointing losses to bad teams like Phoenix, injuries to key players, across-the-roster illnesses and all the problems that contenders have to learn to overcome. Boston has a roster full of talented players, many of whom are going to be free agents this summer. So for this team, these players, their moment to shine collectively is now. “This is a chance of a lifetime for us,” Irving said recently. “And I think that, in order to achieve what we want to, we have to be closer as a team and . . . I’m enjoying this. Every day is a new challenge. I’m just so open to what these guys have to offer and what we can accomplish by the end of the year.”