While I like to think of myself as a Celtics’ expert, especially with their current roster, I love to ask around and get other perspectives from other die-hard Celtics fans out there. At the end of the day, that has to be one of the best parts about sports.
Here’s a few die-hard experts, who I will call The Green Team, giving their insight into the following question:
Aside from Isaiah Thomas, who has been the most pivotal player to the Celtics success this year?
Garrett Haydon (Insider): The Whole Bench!
I think personally the play of the Celtics’ bench has been a huge factor that they are able to have decent depth off the bench to take the load of Isaiah. Kelly Olynyk has been huge especially recently because he can finish effectively around the basket. When you go deep into your bench and put in guys like Smart, Rozier, Kelly, Jerebko and Jaylen Brown and still be effective, you’re gonna have a good team. The depth I think will really show in the playoffs now that some of them have playoff experience
Jaylen has been great as well, he’s a guy that could have a special game or two this postseason.
Keishon Bradley (Green Team Insider): Kelly Olynyk
When Olynyk performs with confidence in his three-point shot, it forces the defense to close out on him. Olynyk has the valuable ability to put the ball on the floor when the defense closes out on him as well, and he put this on display in the second quarter in the Celtics’ most recent game against the Pacers. After Olynyk received the ball in the corner following an inbounds pass, Thaddeus Young sprinted out at him to take away the three-point shot. Seeing a window of opportunity, Olynyk put the ball on the floor before taking a few hard dribbles into the paint.
Bottom line is he’s a great team player and has great passing abilities to set up his teammates. Olynyk’s unorthodox scoring ability is beneficial as it allows him to utilize his size to create chances from scratch when the Celtics are scrambling for an open shot. The Celtics are going to make a deep run and hes gonna be an important piece moving forward.
Sami Amuri (Insider): Marcus Smart
“It can’t be argued that the Celtics would not be the Celtics without Isaiah Thomas, who has turned into the superstar Boston has craved since Paul Pierce went to the nets. Isaiah is a reliable scorer, a spark plug, and clutch. However, Marcus Smart is the type of defensive player that can make up for the liability of IT on defense. Marcus has improved in just about every stat possible since last year. His steals, blocks, ppg, FG%, and 3pt% have all improved. But Marcus’ best contribution lies beneath the statistics. He is a relentless defender, and has come up huge on many occasions with a steal or solid defense late in the game.
The only reason Smart’s numbers are not sky rocketing is because of the well-balanced team and variety of scorers that the Celtics have this year. In fact, when the Celtics suffered a bunch of injuries in the middle of February, Smart stepped up and led the team to an 11-1 record in a brilliant 12 game stretch. Over the course of those 12 games, Marcus averaged 12.3 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals while shooting 43.9% from the field and 37.3% from behind the arc. He stepped in for the injured Bradley and played a large role in the Celtics success. Smart has shown ruthless defending, great strength, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, and his impact on the Celtics could not be talked about enough.”
Matthew Harris (Mock GM Sports Takeover): Jaylen Brown
“Jaylen Brown had been the most important player to the Boston Celtics’ success this year. With only being a rookie Brown wasn’t supposed to see much playing time with Jae Crowder on the roster, however Browns basketball IQ and fearless athleticism and energy on the court propelled the Celtics into a fast past transition team with a lot of potential.
Brown is also unselfish, but knows when to take over a game or stick to the game plan. Remember it’s only his first season but he’s playing like he’s been in the league for much longer.”
To check out Matthew’s blog, click here.
Vincent Gallo (Insider): Marcus Smart
“Other than Isaiah Thomas, I think the most important Celtics this year has been Marcus Smart. He’s the primary backup behind Isaiah, and I kind of think he’s second in command. Smart can’t shoot (effectively) yet but he literally does everything else: Pass, Rebound, and Defends at a really high level. He also has a fantastic motor.
Smart is probably the heart of this team.”
To check out Vincent’s blog about Springfield College Athletics, click here
Lots of interesting insight by these guys, and I want to thank everyone who contributed to this article.