BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics season is over after a four-game sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.
Stealing a win against the Cavaliers would have been nice, but the sweep shouldn’t lessen a very impressive run at the end of the regular season to earn the playoff berth. The Celtics overachieved all season, and really came together as a unit once the roster was solidified after the trade deadline.
But now that the season is over, we look ahead to the future. Who better to discuss what’s next than the voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande?
The C’s are still a few years away from being a legit contender again, and Danny Ainge has plenty of work ahead of him. But Grande thinks the Celtics have the pieces in place to make that a quick transition, and many of those important parts are already on the roster.
“What I’ve described [Boston’s situation] as is those kids books, where you get to the end of the page and you have different options – turn to this page to do this, or turn to this page to do that. Danny Ainge has so many different ways to go because of all the assets he has,” explained Grande.
“I don’t think this is going to be a fireworks year. The key free agents that you would want this year, most of them are restricted,” he said, noting the Spurs will match any deal for Kawhi Leonard and the Bulls will likely do the same for Jimmy Butler. “So I don’t think it’s a big year of free agents changing places. But as we move through next season, from the trade deadline in 2016 to the summer of 2016, I think that’s when big things are going to start to happen.
“I think the Celtics will be better next year,” he said. “I think you know that Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas and, hopefully, Jae Crowder are going to be big pieces of this. I think that you’ve seen Avery Bradley start to develop into a leader and captain-type player. I think there are more pieces of this team than you think. But when you start talking about their pieces, and the best pieces for when they get good, you’re starting with Brad Stevens.”
Grande also shared his thoughts on a number of different topics. Listen to the full interview below.
Has Jae Crowder Earned A Spot On Team?
“No question. This was something [Cedric Maxwell] and I have been talking about for months. You never really know a player until you watch him every day. Jae Crowder was one of those players who, from afar, you say he plays hard and is an overachieving guy. You don’t realize until you watch him defend, and then you watch him take on a bigger role and get better as the season goes on.
“I saw James Posey before Game 3, and I told him we were talking about him a lot because since his one year here, people have been saying the Celtics need another James Posey-type. I say they have one, who is only 24 by the way. [Crowder] can certainly become that guy.
“To me, and we have to wait and see how the injury situation plays out, but [Crowder] is a very high priority and absolutely a piece on an elite team.”
Was Olynyk’s Foul On Love A Dirty Play?
“If by dirty play you mean there was intent to injure… I get it, Kevin Love is hurt and it’s frustrating he is going to miss playoff games. But if anyone thinks Kelly Olynyk did that on purpose, they haven’t scouted him or watched him play. This is the same guy who, when he took one of the most viscous cheap shots from Hassan Whiteside, he came in the next day and they were BFFs.
“Listen, his fellow Canadians think he is too polite, so let’s not get carried away with the idea of the intent to injure. And if you watch him, he doesn’t box out properly. He’s been doing that all year.”
Can Love Be A Cornerstone Player?
“I’m going to go the unpopular route and phrase it this way: I’m not the Kevin Love guy that other people are. I just don’t like him as much as other people do. I don’t think he is what people seem to think he is, which is a top 15-20 player in the league.
“He has a very unique skill set, but my concern is the number of miles on him at his age. He’s played such a big role, and we know Minnesota ran Kevin Garnett ragged when he was their guy. Kevin Love has played a lot of ATV minutes as a rebounder and the best player on a bad team.
“I think he’s in a perfect spot in Cleveland, and the idea of everyone assuming he’s going to leave, it’s possible, but I don’t think decisions like that get made yet.”
On Isaiah Thomas’ Struggles In Games 3 and 4:
“He got shut down by Iman Shumpert in the two games in Boston. Isaiah Thomas got the Celtics into the playoffs, because he brought something they didn’t have. This is an amazing number: If Isaiah Thomas doesn’t get hurt – and no one talks about Dwyane Wade taking guys out – if Isaiah doesn’t miss those games, he had a chance to lead the Celtics in free throw attempts – playing 28 games. That’s a staggering number when you consider what they were lacking.”