I’ve made a bit of a tradition using Thanksgiving to select some upsides for the Boston Celtics. These posts make for insightful, if not hilarious snapshots of what the C’s were up to at the time.
Just a season ago, I suggested fans cherish Al Horford’s health and the friendship between Washington natives Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas. A few years earlier, I wrote about Rajon Rondo and James Young. Clearly a lot has changed for Boston.
Thanksgiving 2017 figures to be quite the year for basketball fans in the Hub, and saying grace may take a while for anyone trying to include all the positives this Celtics team has shown. Instead of sifting through the storylines, I decided to spread some love throughout Boston’s Thanksgiving guest list. Across the board, there’s plenty to be thankful for.
At my house, it’s turkey by committee on Thanksgiving. My grandmother, my mom, and several aunts all join forces to put together a memorable meal. This demands plenty of behind the scenes preparation and planning.
For Celtics Thanksgiving, the role of Mom and aunts will be played by Coach Stevens and his staff. Danny Ainge gets to play the part of Gram. In reality, Gram’s turkey can be a little dry, but this isn’t the case with Ainge in the kitchen. He’s prepared a bird that is savory and juicy.
With ice in his veins, he built a Celtics team that is smart, fast, and set up to compete in the modern NBA. There’s even several future first-round picks for desert. Stevens and Co., meanwhile, have created a hefty portion of defensive might, served alongside a delicious 8.1 plus/minus.
Working together, the Celtics’ front office and coaching staff have cooked up something brilliant for Boston. Thus far in 2017-18, it’s been a feast for anyone who loves good basketball (or bad thanksgiving metaphors).
The Crazy Uncle
We all have that one crazy uncle. The one with whom you stick to pleasantries and football. You enjoy a beer or two, keep things light, and avoid politics at all cost. The Celtics have one of those uncles, too.
Kyrie Irving’s knack for… unconventional wisdoms… is plenty well-documented, and I’m confident the conversation at Uncle Drew’s dinner table is bonkers. Still, Boston’s Thanksgiving would look very different without him. The Celtics have a lot of positives to be thankful for, and Irving’s otherworldly performance on the court thus far deserves special attention.
Beyond an insane scoring prowess, Kyrie is adding new layers to his game. He’s a deft passer and has shown a willingness to steer from the rear at times. Perhaps more importantly, Irving is posting a positive defensive box plus/minus for the first time in his career.
One way or another, we all love our crazy uncles. I bet we’d love them a little bit more if they could do things like this.
Clutch Time = last 5 minutes of a game when the point differential is 5 or less
Kyrie = UNREAL pic.twitter.com/jMj90Xhncr
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 22, 2017
The Kids Table
Turkey Day is fun because it’s a time to catch up with cousins (Hey, Justin). At the Celtics Thanksgiving, there’s an impressive crop of young-bloods seated around the kids table.
With each passing day, second-year wing Jaylen Brown shows great intelligence, poise, and confidence on the court. He leads the team in minutes, and has more than earned that responsibility. His shooting percentages are up, and he continues to defend at a high level. That he’s not the only bright prospect for this team says a lot.
Brown looks like he has the right stuff to have a very fruitful pro-career, and less than two dozen games into his NBA career, it seems as if the same is true of Jayson Tatum. Already a potent offensive threat, he’s the ringer of the cousins, the crown jewel of the family’s future.
There’s a few other notables seated around the kids table, including fan-favorite Terry Rozier. He adds an element of character and fun to Boston’s young crop of players, but we would be remiss if we didn’t say our thanks for Marcus Smart.
He’s still on his rookie contract, so Smart can sit at the kids table if he wishes. As one of the league’s best strongmen, he’s also fully earned a seat among the adults. Trying to quantify his impact on the floor is difficult. Read what Sam Sheehan wrote about Smart earlier this year to make sense of how fortunate the Celtics are to have him on the roster.
It’s rare that a Thanksgiving passes with everyone together and all the news good. This year, Gordon Hayward will be Skyping in to see everyone but the backyard game won’t be quite the same without his involvement. Still, everyone in the family can give thanks for a good prognosis and a strong recovery. As they gather around the turkey this year, everyone in the family still has one eye on next year, when Gordon will have his proper place at the table.
We can’t relish the good without some bad. Overcoming adversity is part of the story this November, for both the family as a whole and the temporarily absent brother.
At my house, my mom still puts out a multicolored ceramic turkey I made at Plaster Funtime. Boston’s centerpiece blows mine out of the water.
Al Horford is the Celtics’ most important player. There’s heaps of data that can support this claim, but you only need to watch the Godfather player to see how he continuously and thoroughly he impacts the game. His defense is impeccable, his offense is consistent, and his leadership is unquestionable. He ties things together for Boston the way few players around the league can.
Of all the things to be thankful for as a Celtics fan, the team’s future is perhaps the most deserving. This club is undeniably ahead of schedule. Will this improbable winning streak lead to glory in 2017-18? That much is quite unclear.
With Boston’s youngest stars improving each game, a disabled player exception, a number of extra draft picks to play with, and the eventual return of All Star Gordon Hayward, its possible that next year’s Thanksgiving will be even more prosperous.
The days of Ubuntu are long gone, but there’s an element of “I am because we are” with this club. It’s taken a number of positive breaks and developments for Boston to be in such a fortuitous situation, and each one deserves praise. This year, enjoy your turkey and be sure to say your thanks to the Basketball Gods.