Boston, MA– When the 2018-19 NBA season began, the common consensus among analysts, experts, and fans was that, with LeBron James departing the Cleveland Cavaliers and venturing out to the Western Conference, the Boston Celtics were the heir apparent to take over the East. With a lineup of young up-and-comers and some of the biggest stars in the league, Boston was an easy pick for the one seed in the East and many, including myself, penciled them in for a date in June with the Golden State Warriors.
Obviously, this did not come to pass, and the Celtics fell to the middle of the pack as an aggressively average and underachieving team in the league. Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks rose up the ranks and the Celtics now finish the season looking up at them, along with the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Celtics finally brought their tumultuous season, filled with Gordon Hayward-based question marks and controversial Kyrie Irving comments, to an end last night on the road against the Washington Wizards. They fell behind early and were down by 14 going into the second quarter, but a string of quality possessions brought them right back into it and they eventually proved victorious by a score of 116-110. This clutch win came courtesy of a dominant fourth quarter, during which the Celtics outscored Washington 27-15.
It was even more impressive that the Celtics grabbed this win with a lineup that was missing Irving, Hayward, Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum, some of whom were injured and some of whom just received rest. Instead, Terry Rozier led the way with 21 points in a lineup that was rounded out by Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, Guerschon Yabusele, and Semi Ojeleye. It was an unconventional lineup, but it was enough to topple the lowly Wizards.
The Celtics end the regular season at 49-33, just one win shy of 50 (much like the Boston Bruins), and with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and third place in the Atlantic Division. They have a date with the Indiana Pacers in the post-season's first round and the playoffs begin on Saturday with official matchups to be determined after other teams finish up their respective seasons tonight. We're in the endgame now!