Next up in our “Seasons in Review” series, we take a look at Celtics Crossover Gaming, who flashed brightly in tournament play but couldn’t translate that to the regular season.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where Will Beverina took a look at Grizz Gaming, whose play was probably a little better than their record indicated.
Current roster: Fab, MelEast, Profusion
Protections: Fab, MelEast
Offseason transactions: Retained Profusion in exchange for their 3rd round pick
Draft picks: 1st round (8th overall), 2nd (28th), 4th (60th)
The Good: Celtics Crossover finished in second place in both the TURN and the TICKET tournaments, displaying cool, calm and collected tournament play. Fab vindicated his second overall selection with magisterial performances all season long; he led the league in assists by a mile and fit perfectly into coach Ricco Phinisee’s movement-heavy system. They were the first team to beat Blazer5 Gaming in the regular season in Week 7 and went 4-2 against playoff teams overall. The Celtics, when on their game, displayed a top-5 aggregation of talent and pace, distributing the ball more than any other team and with almost unparalleled cleverness.
The Bad: That’s second place in those tournaments, not first. The team was steamrolled by a red-hot Blazer5 team in the TURN before suffering a heartbreaking upset at the hands of eventual champions Knicks Gaming in the final of the TICKET. Celtics Crossover also fumbled away a playoff berth, coming out flat against an eliminated Magic Gaming team in their final game of the season. While the offense was potent throughout, the defense was not, as the Celtics’ aggressive defense allowed teams—worse teams—to run and score against them. They were the only team to allow over 100 points in regulation.
The Good: Fab is here to stay, and the team wisely extended Phinisee for the 2019 season. The loss of Arsonal will hurt the offense, but the Celtics remain a talented team despite his departure and the loss of skilled players Speedbrook and POP. Despite their existing talent, they still have a lottery pick and second-round pick with which to further improve their team. More experience can only help in crunch-time situations and down the stretch, and so the offseason and continued familiarity should help the Celtics eradicate their can’t-quite-finish tendency from season one.
The Bad: They didn’t win the Ramo sweepstakes. Acquiring the MVP candidate would have made Celtics Crossover a championship favorite, but now they’ll have to find a big man through the draft. While I have full faith in Ricco & co. to hit on the team’s draft picks, they’ll be extremely hard-pressed to find a player of Ramo’s caliber. They’ll also need to find a pick-and-roll partner for Fab, after Hawks Talon GC snagged Arsonal in the expansion draft. In short, there is still a very real number of holes in this team that have yet to be filled and cannot necessarily be filled with ease.
The Big Question
How do they go to the next level?
Fab posted an All-NBA 2K League season in the first year of the league, and despite fielding a roster of six good players, Celtics Crossover couldn’t win a tournament or even crack .500 and the playoffs. How do they capitalize on their talent and take it to the next level?
The solution doesn’t necessarily come through the draft. The Celtics will get good players, but it takes time to adjust to the pressure and aura of the league. Can a guy three months removed from waiting two hours for a wager matchup step onto the stage and help Fab topple a tough, experienced team? A lot of pressure, in fact, will have to be on the team veterans. Fab started to become a leader last season; part of why the Celtics protected Mel is for his leadership.
Will they take on enough leadership of their rookies and of themselves to lift their more-than-talented team to the next level?