This Is What the Celtics Always Were Supposed to Be

April 29, 2019 - 8:10 am

BOSTON (WEEI) -- As we sit here basking in the glow of the hottest team in basketball -- a classification I believe is fair considering the Boston Celtics' sweep of the Indiana Pacers and Sunday's blowout over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks on their home court -- it seems like a productive exercise to learn from the roller coaster that led us to this point.

So many twists and turns. So many definitive statements. So many doom-and-gloom scenarios. And now, this.

With the Celtics, the games we were reacting to actually counted ... sort of. If they had fixed what ailed them during those uncomfortable regular-season ruts, maybe they would be starting this Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston and not Milwaukee. But besides home-court advantage, did it really matter? Because as we're finding out now all of the drama was just that: drama.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge had a plan we bought last October, jumped ship on five times since, and is now truly taking root. The blueprint was seemingly not flawed.

Brad Stevens can coach. Kyrie Irving can lead. Gordon Hayward can play. Al Horford can be much more than average. And the Celtics can be considered the team to beat in the East. A month ago, all of that was coming into serious question at a most uncomfortable time.

So, what happened?

The C's found themselves at the right time. Remember that first game against Indiana was still being viewed as a somewhat uneasy proposition considering there didn't seem many offensive options outside Kyrie Irving. But little by little, by the time Stevens' team left for Indianapolis, it had seen the fruits of their labor. The idea that Irving could control the ball while getting others involved was becoming a reality, pushing aside talk that team basketball wasn't an option with Irving at the controls.

The Celtics were finally adhering to the way Ainge and Stevens were imploring them to play, and they were seeing results. It was as if the likes of Irving, Hayward, Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier were smacked in the face with Albert Einstein's words: "Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value."

No more talk of contracts or minutes. The playoffs are non-negotiable, a reality the Celtics have clearly come to grips with.

Now, the switcheroo is undeniably a product of this different kind of world the postseason presents. Rotations are shortened and playoff alphas -- such as Irving -- are always prioritized. But there have been plenty of examples of really talented teams folding in the postseason because it never did click. Over the past two seasons, the Celtics have taken advantage of such messes. This, however, has become the perfect storm Ainge and Co. were banking on and so many thought would most likely fizzle out.

It took seven months but the plan is working out ... just in time.

By Rob Bradford