By: Kenny Doyle
I don't know if you believe in destiny, but with Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward, it's hard not to. Their run to the National Championship game at Butler together to face off against Duke is one of the best Cinderella stories in NCAA history. They went down to the wire against the class on the NCAA in Duke and it came down to the final shot. One half court heave that was 3 inches off. It'll be hard to avoid hearing the words "unfinished business" when people are talking about Brad and Gordon on the Celtics.
If you want to hear some gushing over the improbable run that Butler made to the National Title game, don't talk to Brad or Gordon about it. As Brad said in a documentary Bleacher Report made about the game "In our minds we we're supposed to win". Brad wants no talk about being an underdog. The position they were in at Butler does sound familiar to the situation they're in now. They're a great team, but will likely be doubted because they are in a weaker conference. I bet not many people think they have a chance to beat Golden State, but the only people that need to believe they have a chance are Brad Stevens and 13 players in green.
As a coach, it's probably not good to have favorites on your team, especially when it comes to your stars, but it may be hard for Stevens to hide who his is. Hayward immediately steps in as the best player on the team in a complete sense. Isaiah is a better scorer, but Hayward's complete, all around game will shine through and could catapult the Celtics to a 60 win team.
Though Brad Stevens deserves the majority of the credit, Isaiah deserves a lot too. He was the first star in Boston, He was the one that joined the Celtics and changed everything. In 2015, they were a middling eastern conference team stuck between the playoffs and the bottom. They were in the same position the Magic are in. They traded for Isaiah, and everything changed. Isaiah didn't have much time to turn things around after being traded to a #11 seed in mid-February, but he somehow got into the playoffs in his first year with the team with only 2 months to get them into the 8th seed. On top of that, perhaps no player in the NBA has been a better recruiter than Isaiah Thomas. He commits. He got Horford here. Now he got Hayward here. He takes time out to come to the meetings and works HARD on social media as well, Isaiah is among the best recruiters in the NBA, despite the fact that his doubters say players might not want to play with him which is clearly not true.
Hayward, Horford, and Isaiah isn't the best big 3 in the league, but over the last 2 years they've combined to make 4 All-Star games, Just as many as Cleveland's big 3. This Celtics team won't scare people the way it should. They still need another piece to be a real contender, but I wouldn't doubt Hayward and Stevens. There is something fabulistic about them. There is something special about it. There's only one place where it makes sense for their story to end. With an NBA championship. It's meant to be.
Photo: (Indiana UMC)