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Guide to Watching the Celtics and Maintaining Mental Sanity

As we enter the tip off of the Celtics’ 2013-2014 season, not a single person has a clue who the Celtics’ starting five is. Nope, not even first year head coach Brad Stevens. While this is certainly further evidence of the mess Stevens has inherited, the starting five really will not matter much. In fact, Boston will probably have more combinations of starters than any other team in the league by the end of the season. Don’t expect many players outside of Avery Bradley to play more than 25 minutes tomorrow. Hell, let’s cut to the chase, abandon all fleeting hope of this team reaching a playoff series as a scrappy eight seed. Understand that four wins through the entirety of November would be a success for this sad collection of trade assets and castoffs. So how can you bear to watch this team struggle so astonishingly? 

1.) Screw the score, disregard the record

Unless you fancy yourself particularly masochistic, you will gain absolutely nothing by following this team’s box score. The losses are going to pile up quickly. Mediocre teams like the Jazz and Trailblazers will blow the Celtics out of the Garden. We’re talking 20+ point losses (at home) to teams that finished at or below the .500 mark last season. Take pride not in those fantastic corner threes off a set play that Doc Rivers cooked up or stunning flashes of grace and agility that Rondo provided. Instead watch for small step forwards by the Celtics’ future stars: a nice pick and roll between Pressey and Sullinger, a savvy interior pass from Olynyk, an imposing block from Faverani. These glimmers of hope will be much easier to glean once Rondo returns.

2.) Root for the Assets

The Assets: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Jordan Crawford, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Courtney Lee. I know I just listed half the roster, but those are guys that title contender will be interested in making a trade for– experienced players with established skill sets. If the Celtics are able to increase the value of just one or two of these guys then Danny Ainge could flip them for draft picks or a promising young talent. Again, this season’s Celtics squad is not playing for 2013, but instead 2015 and beyond. It is important that Boston is able to clear additional cap space in order to acquire much-needed free agent acquisitions in 2014 and 2015.

3.) Get into Brad Stevens’ Head

Celtics fans (and the Boston media) are very much in the honeymoon period with the Godfather of Butler hoops. Stevens certainly has an enigmatic, intelligent aura to him. Recommending psychology books to Rajon Rondo has media-types labeling him as the second coming of the Zen Master. All hype aside, it’s going to be fun to feel out Steven’s playbook and substitution patterns. Stevens’ attention to detail and love for halfcourt sets should translate well to the NBA but how will his approach change with the increase in possession duration and defensive aptitude at the professional level? Perhaps more intriguing than the coach’s X’s and O’s is how he will choose to manage his players. The balance between keeping games close by playing the vets and building for the future with the young guns will be a delicate one. Will Stevens mix the two groups? There’s a certain ancillary benefit to having Pressey, Sullinger, Olynyk, Avery, etc. build chemistry together as that core group will likely be in Boston for many years to come.

In summary, this is going to be a tough year to be a fan of the Boston Celtics. The inability of this team to compete will challenge your devotion. For those of us that are here for the long haul, there is plenty to watch carefully as the Celtics do have a future in sight. Grasp the reality of this team’s situation and allow yourself to enjoy the rebuilding process by focusing on small positives rather than team wins.

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