After a poor start and a mediocre improvement, they withstood a myriad of season-ending injuries. Then, despite all the obstacles and difficulties, things started going their way. Now they have won five straight games and are 14-4 without their best player.
The Boston Celtics make very little sense to the casual NBA observer and are nearly as mind-boggling to attentive analysts. Perhaps a look into their season's timeline will gift us some answers.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
The 2012-13 season for the Boston Celtics really started back in June. The night of the NBA draft brought renewed hope that president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge was focused on finding Boston a big man to balance the frontcourt.
The Celtics had two exciting picks at No. 21 and 22 in the first round, as well as a mid-second round selection. That extra first rounder was the final piece of the major Jeff Green-Kendrick Perkins trade of a couple years ago.
While the Celtics made a long-term investment with that pick, taking Syracuse center Fab Melo, their own first-rounder was spent on Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger.
While Melo has spent most of his season in Maine with the Celtics' D-League affiliate, Jared Sullinger quickly became an integral part of the Celtics scheme.
The second-rounder was used on Melo's teammate at Syracuse, Kris Joseph. He joined Melo with the Maine Red Claws for most of his time.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
After last season's highly rated and highly contested Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics were chosen to square of with the Miami Heat to open the NBA season on national television.
This was, of course, the same night that the Heat would receive their championship rings from the 2011-12 season and raise their banner. The Celtics remained in the locker room for the ceremony, not able to stand the sight of their rival's celebration.
Beyond the 120-107 loss that ensued, this game had all sorts of added significance. It was the first game Boston played in five years without Ray Allen on its side. It was also Miami's first game with the veteran sharp-shooter in its employ.
Allen dropped 19 points on his old teammates in the big Heat victory.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Welcoming the new-look Brooklyn Nets to the TD Garden went anything but smoothly.
In the middle of the game, Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries got into an altercation that led to their ejection and subsequently got Rondo suspended.
Rondo's ejection came after just 18 minutes and three assists. That ended his streak of consecutive double-digit assist games at 37. The streak now stands as the second-longest of all time and is incredibly impressive, no matter what you think of stat-padding.
However, with the streak no longer on his mind, many hoped Rondo would continue his transformation into a better and more frequent scorer.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The Boston Celtics were once again chosen to represent the NBA on Christmas Day.
Boston visited the Brooklyn Nets at their new Barclays Center, allowing this divisional rivalry to take on added significance. This contest kicked off the NBA's five-game holiday slate, with the Celtics taking the day 93-76.
Entering at 13-13, this was thought to be a turning point of the season. A big nationally televised win would surely bust the Celtics out of their early-season doldrums. It was also one of the first games everyone saw what Jared Sullinger could do at this level. The rookie put up 16 points and seven rebounds in the win.
Boston would go on to lose its next four games, quickly ruining the significance of this victory.
Weekend of January 25, 2013
The most influential weekend of the Celtics' season was both disastrous and beneficial.
On Friday night, the Celtics played an incredible double-overtime game with the Atlanta Hawks, ultimately losing 123-111. The game was small potatoes in comparison to the real loss of the night.
As his teammates would find out two days later, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL late in the game against Atlanta. The injury would knock him out for the season.
The Celtics didn't know what was wrong with their star point guard when they took the floor without him that Sunday against the Miami Heat. However, in his absence they played their best game of the season to date, beating the defending champs in a 100-98 overtime contest.
After the win, the Celtics found it hard to celebrate with the news coming down about Rondo's injury. The game did wind up serving as quite a interesting turning point of the season, as Boston went on to win seven-straight games, and eight of nine entering the All-Star break.
January 30 and February 11, 2013
The ink on the tombstone of Rajon Rondo's 2012-13 season had barely dried when the Celtics had to post two more names on the list.
After playing just four minutes in a Jan. 30 game against the Sacramento Kings, Jared Sullinger went to the sideline for good. He would wind up needing season-ending surgery to fix an issue with his back. Sullinger had transformed the Celtics when he was on the floor. He became the team's best rebounder in a matter of a couple months.
Then, just six games later, the Celtics would lose Leandro Barbosa to the same injury that felled Rajon Rondo. Barbosa had been seeing a large jump in minutes and offensive usage since Rondo's injury, making his loss tough to bear.
These two losses, coupled with Rondo before them, all but insured moves would be made at the trade deadline.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The NBA All-Star Game wasn't all that fun for Boston Celtics fans.
Rajon Rondo's spot on the team and in the starting lineup had been filled by heavy rivals Brook Lopez and Chris Bosh, respectively. Paul Pierce had gone on an All-Star worthy tear just a week too late for voters to grant him a reserve spot on the team.
The only player there to watch was the one all of Boston wanted resting instead. Kevin Garnett was voted one of the starting forwards for the Eastern Conference team. Luckily or unluckily, depending how you viewed it, Garnett played only six minutes in the game. He was held scoreless and grabbed three rebounds.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Everyone in Boston was on pins and needles leading up to the 3 p.m. trade deadline of Feb. 21.
Would this finally be the year Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a deal involving Paul Pierce? Would Kevin Garnett waive his no-trade clause to allow Boston to acquire a package from the Los Angeles Clippers?
None of that happened, and the Celtics made it through the deadline unscathed.
One move that did get made prior to the deadline was a trade for Washington's Jordan Crawford. The Celtics gave up the injured Leandro Barbosa, along with Jason Collins, to acquire the shooting guard.
In seven games with the team, Crawford is averaging 5.6 points in 13.7 minutes a night.
March 6-8, 2013
Let's call these the "best wins of the season" games.
The Celtics are currently riding an impressive five-game win streak, with the biggest wins being the two on March 6 and 8.
On March 6, Boston used a massive fourth-quarter surge to get back into a game with the Indiana Pacers. With seconds remaining, they ran a play with the score tied that opened up Jeff Green underneath the hoop. Kevin Garnett fed him the ball and Green secured the win with a layup.
Just two days later, the Celtics were forced into overtime against the Atlanta Hawks. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry made big plays down the stretch, and the Celtics defense forced huge turnovers to win another tight game.
These two wins are being referred to by Doc Rivers as the Celtics' best wins of the season. They could not be coming at a better time, either. Boston has elevated to the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game back of the Chicago Bulls for No. 5. It is also just 4.5 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division.
I'm not sure what it will take for any of us to understand the season the Boston Celtics are having right now. Things appear to be on an upswing, with the two massive wins coming in early March.
They are 34-27 now, and the only thing we know for sure is that we get 21 more regular-season games to figure something out.