To put it mildly, the Boston Celtics have had a disappointing first half to the 2020-21 season. They head into the second half with a 19-17 record, which puts them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. There have been tons of frustration among Celtics players, fans, and the front office, but there is likely some immediate help on the way.
The Celtics need to forget their first-half woes
The Boston Celtics are sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-17 record, far below their lofty expectations. What’s been worse than their record is the fact they’ve shown complete frustration and some have done some finger-pointing while others have taken the blame. There seems to be a lot more going on than their struggles on the court.
Veteran point guard Kemba Walker said the Celtics weren’t playing hard all the time. Jaylen Brown issued multiple “no comments” after simple questions during different losses. General manager Danny Ainge flat-out said his roster wasn’t that good and he pointed the finger at himself for the Celtics’ problems.
Brad Stevens has been under fire for their continuous collapses. The team hit a low point this season when they blew a 24-point lead in the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s been a mess for the Celtics but help appears to be on the way.
Marcus Smart expects to return
The Boston Celtics are expected to get a big boost to their lineup Thursday when they play the Brooklyn Nets in the first game after the NBA All-Star break. Veteran guard Marcus Smart has been sidelined since late January with a calf issue and is about ready t return. On Wednesday, Smart said it looks like he’s given the all-clear to return against the Nets.
“I feel great,” said Smart, according to ESPN. “Today was the first day to really get out there and play 5-on-5 and get contact and really press it to the limit to see. It felt really good. It was hard to really do stuff over the break, 5-on-5, stuff like that. So today was the first time, and it felt great. So they cleared me and said if today went well, I’m most likely going to play tomorrow unless something changed. But as of right now, I will be playing in the game tomorrow.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he still need to talk to the training staff before declaring Smart a go. Smart is the unquestionable leader on the Celtics and it’s certainly shown in his absence.
Harrison Barnes trade could be looming
When it comes to trades, the Boston Celtics always seem to be in the thick of talks. Although they don’t have the bevy of draft picks they’ve had in the past, the Celtics do have a $28.5 million trade exception acquired in the sign-and-trade with Charlotte for Gordon Hayward. According to The Athletic, it’s the largest of its kind in NBA history.
There have been rumors the Celtics have been interested in Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic or Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. Brian Scalabrine, a Celtics analyst for NBCS Boston, said don’t believe the hype. The Celtics want Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, and the Celtics are acting like they have legitimate interest in others, hoping the slumping Kings will pull the trigger and get something for Barnes.
“Let me translate what’s been going on,” Scalabrine said before a recent game. “The Celtics want Harrison Barnes. They think Harrison Barnes is the type of guy who can come in here and make a difference. All the ‘They’re talking to Detroit and they’re talking to Orlando. They’re even talking to Sacramento…’ All this is so eventually Sacramento will say,’ OK, what can we get done with Harrison Barnes.”