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Keys to Success for Next Years Celtics

As the NBA Finals get going, and the Celtics begin to look toward their offseason, it is time to take a look at some keys to success for the team if they are to compete for a championship next year. While Lebron could potentially leave Cleveland, there is no guarantees that he leaves the East, and even if he does, Golden State is still an obstacle in the finals.

Keys to Success

Kyrie Irving/Gordon Hayward

This is pretty much a given. The two best players on the Celtics need to have some semblance of health in 2018 to not only make the finals, but win them. Much was said during the Celtics playoff run about trying to trade either one of Irving or Hayward, but what game 7 against the Cavaliers showed the world is that despite the nice story Terry Rozier was, there is a real reason you went out and got Kyrie Irving. While the numbers on the surface look good with 16.5 points per game in the playoffs, fans also saw Rozier shoot only 40% from the field. Furthermore, when the spotlight was on him in the series against Cleveland, Terry averaged only 13.6 points a game and shot an even worse 37% from the field. A look back at the 2017 playoffs will tell you the difference between Rozier and Irving. In this year, Kyrie shot 47% from the field and averaged over 25 points per game. Numbers like this prove why the Celtics absolutely need to sell high on Terry Rozier and keep Kyrie Irving as the backbone of their franchise. 

Gordon Hayward has the potential to be the best acquisition for the Celtics heading into next season. If healthy and returning to a form close to what earned him a max contract, Hayward will provide a boost in reliable scoring that the Celtics were clearly missing in the Cavs series. Adding him into your starting rotation would allow for a starting five of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, and Horford. This is not unlike what Celtics fans got in the first 5 minutes of the season. The valuable experience Tatum received this year will give the Celtics a starting five that could rival the Warriors when they are rolling.

Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart

One of these two must go. Both Smart and Rozier represent the same type of player: an undersized guard. This is something the Celtics have had plenty of during the Brad Stevens era. With Smart becoming a free agent, the Celtics have a decision to make. If they resign Smart, they have to trade Terry Rozier. This actually wouldn’t be a bad idea. While the shine on Rozier may have been dulled a bit by his game 7 showing, Terry still has plenty of value going into the offseason. Trading Rozier makes all the sense in the world. Marcus Smart is simply too important to the Celtics defensive personality to move on from. Yes, his shooting is awful. Yes, he goes into hero mode at the worst moments. But there is no denying his presence on the court as a difference maker. He is the definition of a beyond the stats player. 

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens is a great coach, excellent maybe. But over his tenure with the Celtics he has never had to deal with star player ego in the way he will next season pending health. Yes, he coached Kyrie for much of the year this past season. But there was no Gordon Hayward, which clearly made it Kyrie Irving’s team. Going into next year, how Stevens handles both Irving and Hayward as they compete for ownership of the team will be crucial to their overall success. Hayward came here because of Stevens, but there is no denying his want to be THE guy on a successful team. Irving’s presence fogs that up a bit. Next year will be the first real test for Brad Stevens that extends beyond the numbers, and beyond play calling. If he can continue to promote his brand of basketball, the Celtics are destined to make the 2019 NBA finals and potentially win.

Disagree? Let me know @BostonSportsTap @MitchyBSoT

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