The Boston Celtics currently sit solely atop the NBA at 9-1 after a shootout with Washington last night. Are the Celtics for real? Or are they a fraud? Let’s dive into it and take a deeper look into Boston.
Boston owns the leagues top-rated offense and the 12th best defense. They are a lower rung rebounding team, but also turn over the ball only about 11 times per game which is the least by any offense in the league. On paper this team looks like a contender.
Kemba Walker has been a revelation sliding into the void left by Kyrie seamlessly and without his ball-stopping and off-court distractions. He’s been shooting tremendously from three (44% on nearly 10 attempts/game) and alright from the field (only 42%), but that number is likely to trend upwards given his history in the league. He’s provided fight on defense.
Jaylen Brown has shown an improved off the dribble game and is driving to the rim with ferocity while playing stellar defense. His three pointer has certainly been shaky and hopefully that will level out as the season progresses.
Gordon Hayward was starting to look like the player Boston signed him to be before he suffered a hand fracture against San Antonio. His loss will greatly hurt the Celtics. Marcus Smart (who is torching teams from outside the arc this year) is replacing Hayward in the starting lineup until he returns, but this leaves Boston with a very thin and underwhelming bench.
Grant Williams hasn’t hit a three yet this year. I love Carsen Edwards’ confidence, but he is incredibly streaky. Kanter can score down low, but is such a negative on defense that you can’t depend on his minutes. The Time Lord himself, Robert Williams, provides amazing energy, but lacks any sort of consistency.
I think this team is good, not great. I love the way they play; the Kyrie era hero ball is gone and they are playing like a Brad Stevens team again. But, I have two major concerns.
Number one: Jayson Tatum
“Mark he’s averaging almost twenty points per game how can Jayson Tatum be a concern?”
Tatum’s shot selection has been terrible so far to start the year which unfortunately a continuation of how he shot the ball last season. I’m starting to wonder if he will actually take that leap into stardom. Boston NEEDS him to develop into a star. I don’t think the mid-range shot is dead, but by god it should be for Tatum. He isn’t driving to the rim any more this year than he did last year and he keeps settling for these contested 15-foot shots that he’s hitting at a paltry 33% while taking the majority of his shots from the mid range (37%). Simply put, Tatum has to cut out most of the bad shots and take more of the good ones (drives to the rim and 3’s). It’s almost infuriating to watch him play because I know that he’s capable of more than what he’s been doing, he just needs to adjust how he’s playing. He does a lot of positive things for the Celtics, shooting contested jumpers from 20 feet out is not one of them.
Number Two: Frontcourt Rotation
What do Daniel Theis, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Robert Williams have in common? None of them are taller than 6’8!
Look, height isn’t everything, but this teams lacks any real semblance of post defense and that is truly concerning in this year’s Eastern Conference.
Against Philadelphia in the first game of the season, they were butchered in the paint. The Sixers out rebounded the Celtics by 20, and had them by the throat the entire game: bullying them on both ends and holding them to a mere 37% from the field.
Yes this was the first game of the season. And yes they have won nine straight since then, but Boston clearly showed their fatal flaw in Game 1 of 82.
They struggled with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson on a fiesty, albeit much less talented, Cavaliers squad.
They survived a nail-biter against a terrible Knicks team that seems to employ a third of the power forwards in the NBA.
I’m not saying it’s a death sentence, but it’s important to note. How will they hold up against Philly again? Can they somehow surpass the Bucks once more? How will the deal with Sabonis when they play the Pacers? These are viable questions for a team that can’t answer them reliably.
The Verdict: Pretender (For Now)
I like this team, but they are missing a piece, a BIG one (I make myself laugh).
They have a great identity and revamped atmosphere. However, they must make a move for really solid interior player if they want to be taken seriously as a title contender. Danny Ainge has been stockpiling assets in TD Garden since the turn of the century and now is his time to turn them into something worth the sum of their whole. The league is as wide open now as it has been in recent history and if Boston plays their cards right, they have a shot to hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy when the 2019-20 season is all said and done.
What are your thoughts and opinions on Boston? Have any trade ideas? Hit up the comment section below and let me know what you think