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Celtics possible "first-round exit" this season, but bright future

 My personal quote, used often, is "A brain can get you through almost anything". Well, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have brain power in abundance, but it sure as Hell has not been evident this season. Exhibit A is NBA analyst Jalen Rose stating, "The Boston Celtics look like a first-round exit this year."


I agree. I would not be shocked to see them swept out of the play-in tournament and head home. Hard to believe I am writing about a team that came back from a 32-point deficit versus the Spurs to take a 143-140 victory, with Jayson Tatum exploding for 60 points.

So what's the good news. I'll start with rookie Aaron Nesmith, alias "ThreeSmith". Where has he been all season? It has become apparent this this hard-nosed kid is part of the solution for some of the Celtics shortcomings.

Boston remains mostly a finesse team lacking toughness. Last night, shortly after Nesmith entered the game in the first quarter, he took down a tough offensive rebound for a successful put-back. Second later, he had an open look from the corner, but chose to drive to the hoop - getting fouled and making both free throws. ThreeSmith notched 16 points and four boards in only 19 minutes

Beyond toughness, the current Celtics crop lacks seasoning and poise. Yeah, I get it. They are young, and poise comes with age and court time. Well, Evan Fournier has the poise-under-pressure sorely needed by The Green. He is a calculator out there. His 30 points and eight assists last night showed his ability to hit the open shots, create opportunities for himself or get the ball to his comrades at the right time. He could be a keeper.

Marcus Smart was aggressive in the loss to the Heat last night, but made a few bad decisions on a few errant passes. But he was still able to produce 16 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals. He needs to remain in the Celtics fold going forward, but a bit more poise would not hurt his cause. Add me to the list of Jimmy Butler admirers, and Marcus could take a few lessons from the guy that makes things work for the Miami Heat.

But it is Jayson Tatum that remains the major building block for the Boston Celtics. A mediocre performance from him still showed 29 points (11-of-16 FG, 2-of-6 3s), five boards and six assists. Ainge needs to surround him with the right cast to strongly contend for Banner #18. That almost certainly won't happen this season, but the right moves by the Celtics brain trust this off-season could yield that result fairly soon.


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