Many people tabbed the Celtics as capable of beating the Warriors last week and they almost pulled it off taking them to double OT. Since then, it seems they have been on a bit of a hangover as they beat the Hornets, then lost three in a row to the Cavs, Pistons and Hawks before winning last night against the Timberwolves.
Aside from just the W/L, there have been some major developments to specific players, specifically Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder. I'll start with Olynyk, as it seems like yesterday I was banging the drum to trade Olynyk and develop Sullinger. However, Olynyk has now been the one playing extremely well and Sullinger has been fading. In the month of December, Olynyk is shooting 45.2% from three. That is a crazy good number for a Center and he was the main reason the Celtics took the Warriors to double OT last week.
In the game, Olynyk played 37 minutes, shooting 11 for 21 with 28 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block. Clearly it was his best game of the year and recently he has been playing extremely well. He deserves consistent minutes and he may soon be starting over Sullinger or Amir Johnson if he keeps his play up.
Very quietly Jae Crowder has become maybe the most reliable scorer on this Celtics team. In his last 13 games, Crowder has got under 10 points only once while he is up to 37.2% 3PT shooting on the season. Crowder has also double double'd in his past two games which is absolutely huge for a small forward. His rebounding has been exceptional and it is really helping this team, which lacks a consistent rebounding big as it is. Isaiah Thomas is still and will continue to be the fan favorite and the teams best player, but Crowder's consistency has been somewhat unexpected and greatly needed.
Lastly I'll finish off with a bit of trade rumors, as in the past couple weeks the Celtics have been linked to a possible DeMarcus Cousins trade. Cousins is an elite player that is worth whatever the price, but I am not convinced the Kings will actually trade him. It would take at least 3 firsts from the Celtics to go with some combination of Kelly Olynyk/Jared Sullinger/Marcus Smart/David Lee/James Young. Speaking of David Lee, he has been rumored to be on the trade block and it makes sense. Lee does not fit this current Celtics team as it makes more sense to develop the likes of Olynyk, Sullinger, Zeller and even Jordan Mickey rather than playing David Lee significant minutes. I do not think the return would be great on Lee, but if Ainge can get anything of substance he will definitely pull the trigger.
I will have another blog coming out soon on the upside of the small ball lineup and why Brad Stevens should consider using it much more frequently.
By Jack Journeay