The winner of the Celtics-Cavs deal two years later is...

The winner of the Celtics-Cavs deal two years later is...

BOSTON -- When it comes to trades, we often associate the winner of the deal with which team wound up with the best overall player. 

When the Celtics-Cavaliers trade was made two years ago, Kyrie Irving and the Celtics were the winners by a mile. 

And now, on the two-year anniversary of the deal, the Celtics still come out on top…but not for the reason you might be thinking. 

In his time with the Celtics, Irving checked off most of the boxes in terms of being what the C's needed. 

But by the end of his time with the Green Team, Irving looked more like he had checked out and was mentally on to the next team.

Even with all the leadership issues Boston had under Irving’s watch, even with all the issues that led to more whining by this crew than winning, the Celtics did the right thing in making the trade for one reason and one reason only. 

Because the alternative to not doing that deal would have kept Boston on a treadmill of mediocrity, which is basketball purgatory.

Isaiah Thomas’ injuries were more severe than most thought, which meant that if Celtics kept their best player at the time, they would likely have been without his services for a while. 

Remember, after he was traded to Cleveland, Thomas did not suit up in a game for the Cavs until Jan. 2, 2018

And if not for the trade, there were going to be legit chemistry issues looming ahead with Jae Crowder and the rest of the team’s wings. 

Crowder came to Boston as a trade throw-in from Dallas, a player that few envisioned would blossom into the player he became with the Celtics. 

To his credit, Crowder worked his way into being a reliable two-way player who provided some much-needed talent and toughness for Boston. 

For him to have come as far as he did and then find himself battling for minutes off the bench with more players at his position than ever looking to gobble up minutes … both he and the Celtics deserved better than that. 

So, moving Crowder took all the guesswork out of who would be the odd man out between himself, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and incoming rookie Jayson Tatum. 

Still, the biggest win for Boston over Cleveland in the deal was hope. 

Irving is a dynamic talent, the kind that gave the Celtics every reason to believe that they could win an NBA title with him in the fold. 

As much as fans around New England loved Isaiah Thomas, there was always a belief that he could only take you so far as the best player on the team. 

As for the Cavs, the unprotected pick from Boston was seen as the trade equalizer if it would have been among the top three or four picks. 

Instead, the Nets became more of a grind-it-out team that won more than expected, which led to the pick from Boston (via Brooklyn) falling to eighth overall. 

Cleveland wound up selecting Collin Sexton. who had a good rookie season; good enough to earn a spot on the NBA’s  All-Rookie second team. 

He’s good, but he’s no Irving, which is why it’s hard to see a pathway in this deal that one could declare that the Cavs came away victorious. 

They traded away the best player in the deal. 

The two best players they acquired were traded away just a few months later after being picked up. 

And the draft pick wasn’t anywhere close to where it needed to be in order for it to truly have the kind of difference-making impact Cleveland was hoping for. 

So, as we reflect upon the Boston-Cleveland trade, we’re reminded that the winds of change sometimes sway away from one team on the night of the trade and toward the other a couple of years later. 

This ain’t one of those deals. 

Boston came away with the win on draft night. 

And now two years later, the Celtics still won the deal.

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Has Brad Stevens finally found his 'microwave' in Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards?

Has Brad Stevens finally found his 'microwave' in Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards?

Maybe fellow rookie Tremont Waters best summed up what it was like to watch Carsen Edwards erupt for eight third-quarter 3-pointers in the Celtics' exhibition finale Tuesday night in Cleveland.

“I didn’t want to get burnt, so I tried to stay away from him,” Waters (half-) joked to reporters.

Edwards scored 26 third-quarter points behind his 3-point barrage, all of which came in little more than a five-minute span. Maybe more staggering was the distance of his 3-point makes in the quarter, including four of 30-plus feet and an average distance of 29.1 feet on the eight makes.

Edwards nearly matched Klay Thompson’s regular-season record of nine 3-pointers in a quarter. He did match Boston’s regular-season record of nine 3-pointers in a game, a feat accomplished by both Isaiah Thomas and Antoine Walker.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was present for Thomas’ outburst and Edwards’ offensive explosion still left him searching for the right words.

"I don't know if I've ever seen anything like that,” Stevens told reporters in Cleveland. "Those were deep, hard 3s. And how many? Eight? In like five minutes? I've never seen anything like that. I don't know that I have any reference points. He was pretty special.”

For his part, Edward shrugged off his part. He credited his teammates with finding him open shots. He suggested that he slipped into a similar shooting zone against top-seeded Virginia during the NCAA Tournament (that day, Edwards scored 42 points on 14-of-25 shooting with ten 3-pointers as Purdue nearly produced the upset).

What Stevens liked best was how Edwards, who took a hard shot to the nose in the opening minutes of the game, shook off an uneven first half to erupt in the second.

"I think the most encouraging part of the whole performance was I didn't think he was very good in the first half. And for him to be able to recenter and play and come out of the gates like that in the second, that's a great thing for a coach to learn about somebody,” Stevens told reporters. "Sometimes guys don't have it on a given night ... but you always know that he's probably one time from hitting the net away from getting hot.

"He lives on heat checks.”

The bigger picture here for the Celtics is that, in summer league and the preseason, Edwards has shown that his scoring skills should translate to the NBA. He might just be the microwave bench scoring option that the team has long coveted in the Stevens era.

It’s fair to want to see it in regular-season play. But it would also seem logical that Edwards might see even easier shots if he’s got talents such as Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward on the court and opposing teams can’t send their best defenders at him.

Not that it would deter him, anyhow. In the preseason, 31 of Edwards’ 43 field goal attempts came beyond the arc. He shot 45.2 percent from 3-point land and 51.2 percent overall. He scored 61 points in 73 minutes and the Celtics had an offensive rating of 112.6 when he was on the court.

Edwards’ usage percentage was 28.8 percent this preseason, a number driven slightly higher by his six turnovers. Still, he accounted for a staggering 34.1 percent of Boston’s points in his floor time.

This suggests that he won’t be particularly bashful when Stevens puts him into regular-season games. There’s backup guard minutes to be had with the departure of Terry Rozier and Edwards will get plenty of reps if he shoots like he has since arriving in Boston.

It’s a good sign for Boston if players like Waters need a bit of zinc oxide to combat any burns they get from being too close to Edwards moving forward.

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Injury bug (concussion-like symptoms) bites Celtics' Robert Williams at worst time again

Injury bug (concussion-like symptoms) bites Celtics' Robert Williams at worst time again

Boston Celtics second-year center Robert Williams displayed concussion-like symptoms after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face in the first quarter of Tuesday’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love smacked Williams with an elbow as the two chased a rebound and Williams hit the ground hard, where he remained while play continued back up the court.

The team announced Williams will be re-evaluated on Wednesday in Boston.

"Robert was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Cleveland. "I don't know what that means. Obviously, we're concerned about his health. He’ll get with the doctors one more time before we take off here.”

Williams was getting his second start of the preseason but played only 3 scoreless minutes. In a new-look frontcourt, Williams had a chance this preseason to really state his case for available playing time, this after a summer in which coaches raved about his progress, but the injury derailed his best chance to assert himself.

It continues a trend from last season where minor ailments seemed to prevent Williams from having a chance to pounce on available minutes.

Williams registered 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in 33 preseason minutes. He looked overly amped in his first start against Charlotte and played in only small bursts while coming off the bench in the two games that followed.

It would seem Daniel Theis best positioned himself for starter minutes if the Celtics ultimately elect to utilize Enes Kanter off the bench. A healthy Williams can distinguish himself with not only his raw athleticism but his passing abilities. Rookie Vincent Poirer, a French import this summer, logged some quality defensive minutes this preseason that could help his case for immediate floor time.

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