As we approach the final month of the regular season, let’s break down the Boston Celtics early season struggles and why they have a good chance to hang an 18th banner this Summer.
Regular Season Overview
Boston currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 31-27, but are only half a game ahead of the Miami Heat. If the Celtics drop to the seventh seed, they would have to participate in the Play-In Tournament (which consists of the 7-10 seeds in each conference).
Not only would dropping into the 7-10 seed range add several more games to an already loaded playoff schedule, but also it would result in the Celtics playing either the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. Therefore, hanging on to the sixth seed at this point in the season is critical.
On the bright side, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been phenomenal this season. The two All-Stars are currently the highest scoring duo in the league with 2,558 points. Tatum, who recently scored the first 50-point game of his career, is averaging 25.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Brown meanwhile, is averaging 24.5 points per game on 57 percent shooting.
Additionally, Kemba Walker has bounced back from his struggles earlier in the season and is averaging 17.8 points per game. Other key contributors for Boston: Marcus Smart (13.5 points, 5.6 assists per game) and Robert Williams (8.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game).
What is the cause for the Celtics’ regular season struggles?
On paper, the Celtics have one of the best starting lineups in the league and are full of talent. However, something is off about this roster despite all of the talent.
The main reason is: while Tatum and Brown have been on another level this season, the team relies too heavily on the duo to score the basketball. As a result, the offense frequently turns into isolation basketball. The problem with this play style is that when Tatum and Brown are shooting well the Celtics play well, however, when the two have off nights the Celtics play poorly.
If this trend continues, it would be a recipe for disaster for the Celtics in the postseason. Although with stellar play from Walker and new acquisitions Evan Fournier and Jabari Parker, there is still hope the Celtics can turn their season around.
Why the Celtics will thrive in the playoffs?
Can the Celtics put their regular season struggles behind them and thrive in the playoffs? The answer is yes.
The Celtics have one of the best duos in the league and have yet to see their roster at full strength, as injuries and COVID protocols have kept players on the sideline. With that being said, the Celtics will be just fine in the postseason.
Boston can match up defensively with any team in the league. The Celtics have excellent perimeter defenders in Tatum, Brown, Grant Williams, and rookie Payton Pritchard, can defend down low with Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams, and have one of biggest defensive playmakers in league history in Smart.
On the other side of the floor, the Celtics are even more dominant. Tatum and Brown are nearly unguardable with the ball in their hands, Fournier and Walker can shoot the ball at a very high clip, and the two centers have been dominant on the offensive glass. Add in scoring bursts from Parker, Pritchard, and Romeo Langford off the bench and the Celtics become difficult to defend.
Boston has made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the past four seasons, but have failed to reach the Finals in each of those seasons. This year, with a brand new roster and two superstar players, the Celtics will look to take the next step by reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
With tons of talent and playoff experience, the Celtics will thrive in the playoffs and make it back to the Conference Finals this season. There they will likely meet the top-seeded Brooklyn Nets. It won’t be easy, but if the Celtics can put together a solid series, they’ll have the chance to reach the NBA Finals and face one of the Western Conference powerhouses.