The Pain of a Season's End Will Fuel the Future of the Celtics

MILWAUKEE – It’s all over, and that hurts.

That saddens.

That angers.

It’s only natural to feel such emotions in the moments after a season with so much potential came crashing to an end Wednesday night. But such emotions are only a part of the equation.

There is a bigger picture for the Boston Celtics.

The agony of Wednesday’s defeat only sits on the micro level for the organization. There will be another day tomorrow. There will be another season come October. There will be more opportunities for growth and development.

On the macro level, which is far more important, the aftermath of Boston’s season-ending defeat will play a factor in the future of every member of the team – from the players to all the way down the coaching staff. That is what will matter after the hurt, the anger and the sadness subside.

“All of this stuff that we’ve been through,” said Brad Stevens, “they’ll all be better because of it.”

Jaylen Brown is one of those players. At 22 years old, he dealt with quite a bit of adversity this season.

Following an inspiring performance during last year’s postseason run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Brown bounced around the rotation all season long. He began the campaign as a starter, he fell back into a reserve role, and then he ended the season as a starter yet again.

Through it all, Brown held his head high and performed at a high level for Boston. His season culminated with a 12-point effort during Wednesday’s Game 5. He was one of only four Celtics who scored in double-figures.

Brown, still raw with emotions following his team’s defeat, acknowledged after Game 5 the truth of his coach’s statement. He is confident that he will be better down the line because of what he experienced this season.

“It’s obviously a new feeling for me,” Brown said of the fashion in which Boston’s season came to an end, “but all you can do is take it and be optimistic about it and get better … I’m excited about my future.”

The same can be said for Jayson Tatum, who is still only 20 years old and appears to be well on his way to stardom. Tatum and Brown have been through more during their first two and three seasons, respectively, than many NBA players experience through their entire careers. This season, and Wednesday’s loss, only add to that wealth of knowledge and experience, as Stevens alluded to postgame.

“I always say this, and I always kinda reference Jayson and Jaylen: I mean, I can’t imagine what they have to handle at 20 and 22. Like, I just can’t – I can’t fathom it,” the coach said. “I would have cracked long, long, long ago, right?

“I’ve been given the time to grow up and be 42 now,” he continued. “Those guys have done a really good job of just kinda staying the course and trying to become the best that they can be.”

Unfortunately, their best, and Boston’s best as a whole, wasn’t good enough Wednesday night, and it wasn’t good enough this season.

Those facts hurt. But the remnants of that pain are the foundation of the team’s future.

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