Gearing Up For The Best of Enemies

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are not the only two super teams to monopolize the NBA for years at a time. The last time the league was held captive by two basketball Titans was the 1980s, when the Boston Celtics and Los Angles took the NBA to new heights showcasing an already storied rivalry rejuvenated by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s stardom. While the rivalry has endured decades and at time it seems that there has been no love lost between the two franchises, the two fanbases have shared some of basketball’s greatest moments together. While the rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers goes back even further, ESPN’s 30 For 30 franchise’s next picture, “Best of Enemies”  will look to tell the greatest chapters of the NBA’s most storied rivalry.  Growing up on basketball history, this is the most excited I have been for a 30 For 30 ever. Here are some of my thoughts on the rivalry the history I hope to learn more about June 13 and 14.

The NBA saw its first and likely great dynasty when the Boston Celtics won 11 championships between 1957-1969. The Celtics had  at least 3 players represent the Celtics as an All Star from 1957-68, only John Havlicek and Russell mad the team in 1969.

The Celtics’ 1959, 62,63, 65, 66, 68, and 69 were against the Lakers who they defeated every times. Despite losing to Boston, the Lakers were also an early NBA super power. The Lakers at least two players to the All Star game in each of the seasons they met the Celtics in the finals. The Celtics and Lakers both boasted four all stars when the met in the 1962 NBA Finals. The Celtics were seemingly unbeatable for over a decade and clearly more super of the the NBA’s original super teams.

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Magic Johnson and Larry Bird shake hands before a game in LA; SportsIllustrated.com

The rivalry got a lot more interesting in 1979 but not for the reasons you might expect. The Basketball gods gave the world a preview of what was to come when Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores met Ervin “Magic” Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans in the Final Four. Magic and the Spartans would win the first battle but that was only the beginning of the war between the two legends. Bird and Magic would meet 3 more times in the NBA Finals in 84, 85, and 87. This time, the Lakers would get the better of the Celtics winning two of the series.

Bird and Magic were the marquee match up but far from the only weapons for their respective teams. The Lakers big three of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy were perennial all stars. The lakers were complimented by athletic two-way guards,  Byron Scott and Michael Cooper.  For the Celtics, it was Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Robert Parish, aided by Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge and a very old Bill Walton.

While the NBA focuses on tomorrow night’s Game 5 between the Cavs and Warriors, it is only fitting that the 30 For 30 will debut the following day to remind the basketball world that this actually has happened before and that someday, it will to be remembered as some of the greatest basketball battles of all time.

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The Top 4 Superteams of The Last 25 Years

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95-96 Bulls – 72-10 may not be the best single season record of all time but since they won the title, the Bulls are still technically the best team of all time. I think that is how it works anyway… Regardless, this team was absolutely filthy. Michael Jordan had just returned for his first full season back on the basketball court after his bizarre baseball hiatus in the mid-90s. Jordan returned to have what many consider the greatest season of his career, averaging 30 points a game on 11-22 shooting per game while knocking down 43 percent of his 3-pointers to run away with the MVP award.  The Bulls had the highest offensive and defensive rating in the NBA that year. the Bulls overwhelmed teams defensively with their three-headed monster backcourt of Scottie Pippen (6-foot-7), Ron Harper (6-foot-6), and Michael Jordan (6-foot-6). If that weren’t enough, the Bulls also had the greatest rebounder of all time with Dennis Rodman who pulled down 15 rebounds a game that season as well as Steve Kerr, who holds the record for highest career 3-point field goal percentage of all time at 45 percent. The Bulls versatile young small forward was one of the best scoring and passing bench players in the history of the league and was often a matchup nightmare for opponents at a nimble 6-foot-11.

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2012-13 Heat – The 66 win Heat were unstoppable that season. LeBron James led the way averaging 27 points, six assists, and eight rebounds. Dwyane Wade added 21 points per game and Chris Bosh averaged 17. Despite having three of the very best players in the league playing 2 through 4, The Heat had their weaknesses. The Heat never found a true center that year. As A result, LeBron’s eight rebounds were a team best. Miami’s lack of size was a factor in the conference finals against a Pacers team featuring the at-the-time star big man, Roy Hibbert, David West, and of course, their star Paul George who forced the Heat to 7 games. The Heat eventually took down the Spurs in the Finals but not without some luck. The Spurs were just 28.2 seconds away being crowned the basketball kings of the world in Game 6 before Chris Bosh tipped a missed LeBron James shot to Ray Allen in the corner, stopping history in its tracks. Even with a little luck on their side, the 3-point shooting, transition game, and stardom made this team one of the most infamous and feared collections of talent the world has ever seen.

 

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2016-17 Warriors Unless the Warriors blow a four game lead, they may very well be at the top of this list. Basketball is more evolved than ever and the Warriors represent that revolution. The Steph Curry’s 324 3-pointers were the second most in a single of all time behind his 402 the year before. Curry’s team from the year before would be included in this post as well if they had won the championship to cap off their 73 win season. Injuries, suspensions, and incredible play from the Cleveland Cavaliers who famously stormed back to win after trailing three game to one. While the Cavs hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy on their home floor, they responded by acquiring Kevin Durant in the offseason. While the Warriors did not win as many games as the year before, the team is without a doubt more skilled now.  The assembly of basketball talent and intelligence has literally led the way for a basketball revolution. The Warriors with the best offensive rating in the league this year with the second best defensive rating, leading the NBA in steals and coming in third in blocks. If/when the Warriors win the title they will have done so with top four talent at four positions and two former all stars coming off the bench. Forget superteams, these guys are the Justice League.

 

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2007-08 Celtics Before Celtic fans can get too upset about Golden State or Cleveland, they must remember that the Celtics are no stranger to superteams. From the Russell Celtics of the 60s to Bird in the 80s all the latest big three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. Garnett was the Defensive Player of the year and at the end of his prime along with Allen and Pierce. The X-factor however, was Rajon Rondo who showed flexed his basketball I.Q. and dropped delicious dimes all year despite playing in just his second season.  While the big three blew up opponents’ scoreboards on a nightly basis, they were even more spectacular on the other end with the best defensive rating in the league. The Celetics had bench included lockdown defenders, James Posey and Tony Allen and seasoned vet, Sam Cassell. The Celtics championship run could not have ended any other way as they beat they faced the Los Angles Lakers in the NBA Finals for the 12th time. The Celtics went on to win in 6 games but would fall to the Lakers in the finals in 2010.

 

Deal or No Deal

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Isaiah Thomas Best Days May Be Behind Him; courtesy of cbc.ca

 

Thanks to Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics are ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, Thomas window and the Celtics window may not be one in the same.  Having the No. 1 seed in the East is hardly a problem but when that doesn’t mean contending for a championship, the regular season accomplishment loses its appeal in a hurry. No one truly knows when the reign of terror shared by the Cavs and Warriors will cease and allow another NBA team into the finals but the Celtics in theory could potentially be one of the most likely to get in next with an average age of 26, the best record in the East, the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and the potential of Marcus Smart and a Jaylen Brown.

In a perfect Celtics future, they strike gold with all of their Brooklyn Nets picks and are able to dominate the league in five to seven years with what could be three three top five draft picks. Perhaps leading the team would be Markelle Fultz, the star point guard and potential No. 1 pick who met with Danny Ainge earlier this week. According to reports out of the Boston Globe, the meeting between Ainge and Foltz went well.

If the Celtics do draft Fultz at one though and their title window is still a few years out anyway, the question is, what happens to Isaiah Thomas? Thomas has far and away put the Celtics ahead of schedule playing the best and at times, most inspirational basketball of his life throughout the season and into the playoffs. IT averaged 29 points per game this season with six assists, coming alive in the fourth quarter night in and night out averaging 9.8 points in the final 12 minutes. Most years, Thomas performance would have had him in serious contention for the MVP, finishing with the best true shooting percentage and the second most estimated wins added among point guards. For Thomas, the breakout season could not have come at a better time as he approaches a contract summer following the 2017-18 season.

 

Being one of the most valuable players in the league does not necessarily translate into being worth the value of a max contract or long term solution however.  Thomas got to the free throw line at will this past season and was usually to quick to guard but whether that quickness is sustainable over the course of his next contract is debatable. Thomas will be 29 by this time next year and unless he has an unlikely growth spurt, still only 5-foot-9.

Thomas’ athleticism and quickness that make him so special are likely to diminish over the next few years. The biggest question mark in his game now is his defense, which would also presumably be one the decline as he grows older. As fun as he is to watch and as easy as he is to root for, the reality is Isaiah Thomas is probably not the answer for the Celtics; especially if a max contract is involved.

The Celtics could be better suited to let Thomas walk following next season or possibly even explore his trade value at the deadline instead of potentially overpaying a player who may have just peaked.

 

The Master Plan; How the Celtics Can Win The Offseason

As great as the Celtics were this season, having the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference simply isn’t good enough. Despite making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Playoffs also showcased the Celtics inconsistency and some serious flaws that need to be addressed this summer. While the Celtics have enough money to potential grab a max player this off season, the front office needs to be careful about the way they spend if they would like to be able to keep Isaiah Thomas and/or Avery Bradley once their contracts expire following next season. With all things be considered, there are two major moves that could not only keep the Celtics future bright, but also potentially make them a contender as soon as next season.

PHASE ONE: Get on the Phone with the Orlando Magic

The biggest weakness for the Celtics this past season have been size, where they are dead

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Nikola Vucevic giving the Celtics Problems; NBA.com

last, and rebounding, where they were tied for 27th in the league. The Celtics could potentially build on the present and the future, while addressing these weaknesses by sending the rights to the No. 1 pick to the Orlando Magic for a star, yes, I said “star” center, the rights to the No. 6 pick and Nikola Vucevic. The trade below could give the Magic a chance to land a star to build around while giving the Celtics arguably the most underrated center in the NBA.

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Vuc is 26 and averaged the 11th most rebounds per game at 10.4 per in his 75 games despite playing the least amount of minutes since being traded to the Magic following his rookie year. Last season, he shared a crowded frontcourt withe Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, and for half of the season, Serge Ibaka. Vucevic could in theory move Al Horford over to the power forward position, a move that could potentially turn the Celtics into one of the better rebounding teams in the East.

Vucevic is a cerebral player and an incredible talent that would fit seamlessly into the Boston Celtics system due to his high basketball I.Q. and his ability to shoot effectively from almost anywhere on the floor. Vucevic began to expand his range to the 3-point line last season where he shot 30 percent.

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Nikola Vucevic’s shot chart last season; courtesy of vorped.com

Apart from his ability to help stretch the floor, Vucecic had the fourth best assist / turnover ratio in the NBA last season.

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The Best Assist Per Turnover Ratios in the League Last Season; Courtesy of ESPN.com

 

In an era where flexibility is more important than ever for centers, Vuecevic’s skills as a passer and shooter make him one of the best new age centers in the league. Get your oven mits on because here comes a very hot take. If Vuc goes to the Celtics next season, he could very well be heading to his first All Star game. This move would also add a great contract for the next 3 years, providing the Celtics with excellent flexibility when they look to resign Thomas and/or Bradley. Finally, The Celtics would then still have enough money to sign a max player. Who should they pursue?

PHASE 2: Reunite Brad Stevens with Gordon Hayward 

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Gordon Hayward Looking Great in Green Already; NBA.com

The reunion rumors have been swirling for a while now. The fact is of the matter, this would be a hand-in-glove fit. Hayward scored 21.9 points per game this season despite playing for a Utah Jazz team that ranked 28th in points per game and dead last in pace. Frankly, the Celtics would be doing him a favor. No disrespect to Quinn Snyder and the Utah Jazz, who truly do have a very talented and interesting ball club out west, but, if Hayward wants to truly reach his potential going to a team that moves the ball just as well but also can score in a hurry would provide him with a chance to turn into the star he could become. At 27 and coming off a career high scoring year, its time for Hayward to play for a team that can maximize his talent. Brad Stevens has already proven that he can do that.

Phase 3: Putting it All Together 

So what would this all look like?

If the Celtics were to pull this off, they would have a team that could be just as formidable as the Cleveland Cavaliers. They would be a vastly improved rebounding team that could score from any position on the floor. Opposing defenses would no longer be able to throw double teams at Isaiah Thomas with the rest of the could-be-starters on the floor.

Whether it be at Butler or in Boston, the common theme on Brad Stevens teams is overachieving. What would that look like with a team of stars? Perhaps best of all, the Celtics would still be in a position to build for the future, being able to develop Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and that Magic pick from the bench while the veterans play the bigger minutes.

The Celtics are ahead of schedule. This move helps them get better now and keeps them better later. It seems just crazy enough to work and just crazy enough to have Danny Ainge’s name written all over it.

A Summer in Boston

The Boston Celtics are in unprecedented territory this summer after finishing atop the Eastern Conference standings this season and also drafting at No. 1 via the Brooklyn Nets pick. To breakdown the Celtics offseason, I brought Reed Lubin in. Reed and I used to do a radio show called Running with the Bulls on Radio DePaul Sports. Reed and I got behind the mic one more time to talk about the most interesting team in the NBA right now, the Boston Celtics.

Addressing the Jimmy Butler and Paul George Noise

The Boston Celtics would not move the rights to their Brooklyn Nets draft pick this winter. While the Celtics could have potentially received substantial compensation for what turned out to be the first overall pick, Danny Ainge understood that the value of the pick would most likely only go up as the draft approached decided not to make any moves.

“At the trade deadline we were trading away the possibility of the No. 1 pick, a 25 percent chance of the No. 1 pick, but that’s a 75 percent chance of not having that pick, and that’s how teams look at it, which is probably why we didn’t get a deal done,” Ainge told Yahoo Sports. “Now we have the No. 1 pick and we will explore the value of it.”

The value of the No. 1 pick is hard to quantify. The value of the pick can be broken down into two separate possible futures; one near, one a few years down the line. The Celtics could flip the pick for a superstar right now, potentially putting them into the mix with the Cavs and Warriors. The two biggest names that have been swirling around for months have been Jimmy Butler and Paul George… Here is a look at what the Celtics might look like if they were to flip the No. 1 pick for one of the two superstars.

Jimmy Butler

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Jimmy Butler Drives Past Former Marquette Teammate, Jae Crowder; Courtesy of Fansided.com

The Chicago Bulls 27-year-old swingman has been linked to Celtics trade talks for about two years now. Butler has been one of the best defenders in the NBA for years but recently has turned into one of its best scorers, raising his points per game to a career best 23.9 this past season. Butler played alongside Jae Crowder at Marquette and plays with the same type of edge. Adding Butler to Boston would arguably give them the second best back court in the league on both sides of the floor. Avery Bradley and Jimmy Butler are both arguably top five on-ball defenders in the NBA. Having Butler and Bradley would give the Celtics a better chance of slowing down teams like the Cavs with two superstar scorers by putting Butler on LeBron James and Bradley on Kyrie Irving.  Hiding Isaiah Thomas defensively by surrounding him with elite defenders would be huge for the Celtics but then again so would his asking price.

 

Paul George

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Paul George guarded by Isaiah Thomas; courtesy of 8points9seconds.com

PG13 is coming off a career year scoring the basketball, averaging 23.7 points per game. George has the ability play either forward position which would help the Celtics guarding stretch fours as well as getting out in transition. George has everything Boston sports fans love; grit,  the clutch chromosome, and  an insatiable desire to compete. George’s Pacers were underwhelming to say the least this year after making several splashes in free agency in hopes of climbing the latter of the East towards the Cavs. Instead, the Pacers barely snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. To add insult to injury, George and the Pacers were unable to win a single game against the Cavs. Perhaps their best chance to win a game was squandered when Paul George did not have a chance to take the last shot, a scenario which George was outwardly frustrated by. George would certainly have less to be frustrated by if he were to join the Celtics who are looking to build on last season’s best record in the Eastern Conference. George’s size and ability to play the power forward make him a better option for the Celtics than Butler. However, like Butler, the asking price will be substantial. If the Pacers decide to blow it up after their disappointing 2016-17 campaign and the Celtics want to jump into win now mode, the two teams could be in a position to help each other meet their objectives.

 

 

Four Fours That Could Fit For the Celtics

Word on the street is Amir Johnson may be back up to Canada.  After an underwhelming 2017 campaign, I’m sure that is not the worse potential news for Celtics fans. With his contract expiring, the Celtics may not be interested in him returning anyway. An upgrade at the power forward position would not be a bad idea for the Celtics. Unless the Celtics were to trade down in the draft, it is extremely unlikely that they would draft a power forward with most of the best talent being backcourt players. There are a few reasonable options in free agency however… Here are some of the most interesting options at the four spot for the Celtics who are free agents this summer.

Serge Ibaka

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Ibaka with the Raptors; Hoopshabit.com

On its face, pursuing Serge Ibaka sounds likes a no brainer for the Celtics. Ibaka needs a home and the Celtics need a power forward. Ibaka is one of the best rim protectors in the league and has recently grown his game to include a 3-point shot shooting all the way up to 39 percent last season. Ibaka averaged 14.8 points per game last season in 79 games between his time with the Raptors and Magic. Ibaka could help the Celtics in some big ways on both sides of the floor and is in the prime of his career. The only concern in signing Ibaka would be the price tag. The Celtics have the cap to easily offer Ibaka his worth this season but the question is, will that be worth sacrificing the Celtics cap flexibility if they want a max player or with Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas’ contracts both expiring at the conclusion of next season.

Danilo Gallinari

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Danilo ;CBS Sports

Danilo Gallinari would fit like a glove in Coston. The 6-foot-10 Italian is has been playing the best basketball of his career over the past seasons and shows no signs of stopping. Gallinari has the ability to run the floor, is an excellent passer that who could play either forward position and help the Celtics participation in the 3-point arms race with the rest of the league’s best teams. The only negatives about Gallinari are that he is not an excellent defender or rebounder. Of course, just as Ibaka, Gallinari might be worth a little more than Danny Ainge is willing or able to spend this summer.

Taj Gibson 

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Taj Gibson muscles his way to the hoop against the Lakers’ Ivica Zubac; Newsok.com

Taj Gibson could be a nice option for the Celtics for a couple years. Gibson was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder this season at the All Star break. The 7-year power forward has been one of Chicago’s most dependable defenders and rebounders  throughout his entire tenure with the  team and could be an affordable option for the Celtics who desperately need the rebounding help. On offense, Gibson’s low post game and passing ability make him a nice fit in Brad Stevens’ offense.  The only downside is that he is just on the wrong side of 30 and 31. Still, Gibson could be a very helpful role player and an upgrade over Amir Johnson that fits the team well.

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Patterson is another affordable option for the Celtics. Patterson never became the star we thought he may have become but he is no slouch either. Patterson is an athletic power forward and a solid 3-point option, having knocked down 38 percent from 3-point territory last season. Patterson has not put up the numbers to land a big contract which could make him an interesting one-year deal option if he looks to make more money in Boston or elsewhere.

To Keep or Not to Keep?

The Celtics have managed to accomplish the extraordinary feet this season of having the best record in the East despite having the 21st ranked payroll. Although at the surface, this may look like an easily navigated situation for Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office, that is not necessarily the case. With inevitable big paychecks coming from key contributors and potential future stars on the horizon, the Celtics financial challenges present a balancing act for the front office.

The Celtics two leading scorers, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley’s salaries combined for just $14,857,395 this season and will stay around that same number this year. While this gives the Celtics flexibility to pursue potential free agents with a max contract, the Celtics will not be so lucky to have a top score and top defender play for them for a fraction of their value when they look to negotiate their contracts after the 2017-18 season.

Here is a look at the Celtics’ payroll…

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basketball reference’s salary spreadsheet – courtesy of basketballreference.com

In order to continue their ascension into the league’s elite category.  The Celtics need to clear money this off season by letting a few players walk in order to keep their most important role players and keep their options open with Bradley and Thomas once they are free agents.

The Celtics first, should let Amir Johnson walk. Despite starting 77 of the 80 games he suited up for this year, the Celtics took him out of the rotation at times during the playoffs, instead playing Jae Crowder at the power forward position. While this was not a perfect situation for Crowder, the $12 million price tag on Johnson and whatever his asking price is this offseason is simply not worth about half the contract of a potential max free agent.

Next to go should be Jonas Jerebko. The $5 million man made a few big shots against Cleveland recently but do not let that fool you. Let Jerebko go, and give more of those minutes to Jae Crowder, who can play both forward positions and shot the highest 3-point percentage on the team this past year.

Kelly Olynyk is a tougher choice. Olynyk made just $3,094,014 last season and would likely require a raise in pay. While the Celtics would like to cut expenses, Olynyk may be less expendable due to his height and versatility. The Celtics were the shortest team in the NBA this year without much depth in the front court.

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The NBA from biggest to smallest – courtesy of 538.com (October 2016)

Keeping the 7-footer, Olynyk could keep them from getting even smaller and make the absences of Jerebko and Johnson less of a detriment. Olynyk passes well for a big and has shot a respectable 37 percent from deep over the course of his four seasons in the NBA.

Olynyk is likely to be courted by other teams and the Celtics should not overpay, but if they can keep their backup big for around $8 million, then he would be worth having around for a few more years as a key role player.

After all these hypothetical equations are solved, the Celtics would have enough money to pursue a max contract and pay Isaiah Thomas the max he will likely require following the conclusion of next season. The Celtics will have about $20 million coming off the books this summer, maybe just $13 left after the potential resigning of Olynyk.

The Celtics would still be spending in the bottom half before pursing a big name free agent. The goal is to win another championship in Boston. As sweet as being the top seed in the East was this year, only banners matter in this city. The Celtics must be careful balancing their budgets in order to continue immediate success as well as ensuring their long term future by keeping future money available for Jaylen Brown and the possibility of Markelle Fultz. Win now, win later, just win. For the Celtics, the winning must start by winning the offseason.

Seeing into the Fultz Future

The Boston Celtics have a log-jammed back court with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley leading the team in scoring and Marcus Smart having just averaged just over 30 minutes per game in his second year in league. However, the best move for the Celtics in the draft may just be bringing in yet another guard…

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An Imagining of Markelle Fultz as a Celtic – photo credit to Nathaly Shamo

The already likely first overall pick told Danny Ainger earlier this week that he would like to be a part of the Celtics near future. After averaging 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists, Fultz has put together an incredibly impressive resume as an NBA prospect.

“I want to be the No. 1 pick really bad. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I feel like I would fit well in Boston, “ said Fultz.

Meanwhile, fellow Washington Huskie alumni, Isaiah Thomas believes the two would fit well together in Boston.  With Markelle Fultz 6-foot-5 frame and ability to play with guard position, he could fit right in alongside fellow Huskie Isaiah Thomas at the shooting guard position and rotate over the the point guard with Avery Bradley.

Fultz also fits the future of the Celtics regardless of whether or not Avery Bradley or Isaiah Thomas, whose contracts will both expire at the end of the 2017-18 season. Some of the Celtics’ biggest stars may not shine bright until Bradley and Thomas are either resigned or playing somewhere else.

After playing and often excelling in more minutes than expected in the playoffs, rookie forward, Jaylen Brown looks likely to be a large part of the Celtics future.  Pairing Brown and Fultz with one more Nets pick on the way, Fultz also fits the long term picture whether as the three likely top-5 picks will all likely come into their primes at the same time; a time that could presumably come at the end of the current collective titanic reign of the Warriors and Cavs.

Although reading the future is always dicey game, when I gaze into my crystal basketball, I see a formidable young Celtics team vying for a title with a core of Fultz, Brown, a mystery Brooklyn pick, and maybe Isaiah Thomas. I see Brad Stevens… He is continuing to over-perform, the difference this time is his over-performing team is a team of young stars.

Coast to Coast: A Casual Preview of the NBA Finals

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courtesy of ABC10.com

This is a Celtics site. Lets be honest though, regardless of allegiance, all the eyes of the basketball world are on round three between the Warriors and the Cavs in the NBA Finals. It is only natural that as your Boston Gardener, that I jump into a little finals talk.

 
The following is a very relaxed, lightly edited and unfiltered preview of the NBA Finals between myself and Javier Barrera of GSW_basketblog. In the background is a lost soul… a hockey fan.

Poor Joe, instead of gushing over the NBA Finals, the depraved and misled fan watched a 2-2 double overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t know who won and frankly, I don’t care. If you cared, you probably wouldn’t be on this basketball blog. Good for you for picking a sport that can put up a combined 200+ points in 48 minutes instead of a depressing 2-2 tie after over 60 minutes of play.

Anyway, Javi and I decided to keep Joe in the background just like hockey will always be in the background of basketball: the only winter sport worth watching, not including the Olympic Games.

Without further ado, here is the Coast to Coast relaxed NBA Finals Preview…

Topics Discussed:

00:22 – Can a Warriors-Cavs Finals save the 2017 Playoffs?

01:50 – How does ‘crunch time’ play out? Why?

04:02 – LeBron James’ history with his head coaches.

05:28 – Series predictions, player matchups, and nuances.