Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Everything was set up for the Boston Celtics to dominate the Eastern Conference this season.
When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Celtics had their full complement coming back, led by All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and the return of Gordon Hayward to (nearly) full fitness, it seemed the path was wide open for Boston.
However, reality turned out to be a a slap in the face for the Green, as they were never more than lukewarm in the regular season and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
After a sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the playoffs and a blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks on the road in Game 1 of their second-round series, the Celtics fell flatter than three-day-old ginger ale.
Milwaukee won the next four games and sent the Celtics home with a whimper. There were plenty of complaints during the season about Irving not being the leader they needed and Hayward having a difficult time readjusting following his gruesome ankle injury.
Few teams were more disappointing than Boston, and with free agency approaching, it appears players such as Irving, Al Horford and others could leave.
While those are key issues, the team will have money to spend on free agents if “The Departed, Part II” plays out in Boston. One of those free agents could be superstar Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets.