The Dwight Howard saga, which carried on longer than an offseason Bill Belichick shopping spree at Hoodie World, finally came to a conclusion this past week. In an entirely confusing and convoluted four-team deal, Dwight Howard, after several months of whining and crying, finally got his wish, as he was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite all the annoying, insufferable coverage, this long-awaited outcome significantly affects the Boston Celtics. While this deal does take the best center in the league out of the Eastern Conference, it also makes the road to the Celtics’ 18th banner a lot tougher.
Since their playoff run in 2010, the Orlando Magic have been relatively irrelevant in the NBA championship picture. Dealing Dwight Howard cements their significant fall from grace. However, the fact that they were not able to acquire Andrew Bynum in return is the most substantial detail of this elaborate transaction.
The team that was able to snag Bynum was the Philadelphia 76ers, and this makes them an incredibly dangerous team. Already making a splash in last year’s playoffs by taking out the top-seeded Bulls and giving the Celtics all they could handle, this squad, under the tutelage of Doug Collins, now has a legitimate star to add to their talented group of young, athletic players.
Even before procuring Bynum, the Sixers had already experienced a fairly successful offseason. While they did lose 6th man, Lou Williams, they signed Nick Young to supplant him and then re-signed up-and-coming center Spencer Hawes to a very manageable contract. Andre Iguodala was the primary casualty in the Bynum deal, but the addition of Jason Richardson should help replace his production.
Not to be understated here is the role of Doug Collins with this team. He could easily be one of the most underrated head coaches in the league. His players always seem to buy into his system and believe in the goals he sets for them. If the playoffs were the goal last season, this deal has certainly stepped up those expectations, and don’t be shocked when his players fulfill them.
Moving on to everyone’s favorite team, the Miami Heat.
Not that Celtics fans needed to reminded of this, but the one team who did prevent the C’s from their third NBA Finals appearance in five years got better this summer. The addition of Ray Allen was doubly devastating and if any player has something to prove this season, it’s Rashard Lewis. Therefore if I could offer some advice for fans hoping for a championship hangover from the Heat: Don’t hold your breath.
Then there’s the Lakers.
The fortunate beneficiary of a team so desperate to unload their disgruntled superstar, the “Lake Show” adds arguably the best center in the Association to a starting lineup, which had already been supplemented with another All Star in Steve Nash. Obviously, the Lakers and Celtics play in separate conferences, but if Boston were to somehow survive the playoff gauntlet in the East, a matchup against these new-look Lakers would prove immensely challenging.
Combine those factors with the fact that the Indiana Pacers, with another year of experience under their belt, are becoming an increasingly dangerous threat and looking at the amount of talent the Brooklyn Nets have assembled; the Celtics, in case they weren’t already aware, have been put on notice.
Sure. The Celtics were only one game away from the NBA Finals last year, and they certainly made moves to improve their team this summer, but let’s be honest; there were a lot of things that fell into place that facilitated that run. The Bulls were able to clinch the #1 seed before the Derek Rose injury, which allowed the Celtics to avoid the Heat until the Eastern Conference Finals and also set up the C’s for a second-round matchup with the eighth-seeded Sixers. The Heat were without All Star center, Chris Bosh, for the majority of their series with Miami. So, as easy as it is to point out the success of the previous season, it’s just as easy to form an argument highlighting the elements that went in their favor.
The Celtics organization has been toeing the dangerous line between old and experienced for a couple seasons now and they appear poised to do so again. The newest member of the older group and well-renowned Miami Heat killer, Jason Terry, doesn’t seem to be fazed though, as he recently installed the latest edition to his collection of brazen tattoo predictions. It features the Celtics leprechaun balancing the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the tip of his finger. It seems a bit tacky for my taste and I’m certainly not the foremost authority in tattoo etiquette, but I definitely like the way it worked out for him in Dallas.
About the AuthorNathan Conley is originally from Norton, MA, and is a huge fan of all the Boston sports teams: the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. He currently attends the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and writes on the Boston sports scene. If you’d like to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass along the message.
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