Earlier this season the Boston Celtics looked like a sinking ship. There were chemistry issues, disappointing losses, and unmet expectations all around, with the media feasting on every scrap of news that came out of the hole the Celtics seemed to be lowering themselves into. It a few months since then and the Celtics seem to have overcome some of the problems they faced earlier in the season, but what does the team look like now? Can they succeed in a tough Eastern Conference playoff bracket?
The Big Issues
With the way the Celtics looked in January, many might be surprised to find that they currently sit at the 4th seed, beneath only the Bucks, Raptors, and 76ers. Notable quotes came out at the time about chemistry issues, playing as individuals, not feeling like a team, not supporting one another, and constant fighting with the media. Players were calling each other out and it seemed as though they couldn’t find a way to get it together. Gordon Hayward went from the impressive 21.9 PPG on .471% shooting (.398% from the 3 point line) he averaged in his last year with the Utah Jazz to the meager 11.1 PPG that he is averaging with Boston, though a lot of that drop in production could be attributed to his injury; something many players may never have come back from. Terry Rozier is underperforming as well, and Jayson Tatum hasn’t developed at the speed many Celtics fans have hoped.
The Celtics have coasted at a cool 14-13 since January and Marcus Smart is having an incredible year, showing he was well worth the contract extension he signed this offseason. The Celtics booked their ticket to the playoffs and are a lock for home field advantage in the first round, which is a different game to regular season basketball. The Celtics young pieces and role players had incredible success last season in the playoffs, going to game 7 of the conference finals against Lebron James without Kyrie, Hayward, as well as several others. Nothing so far this season has given fans reason to believe that they can’t pull a repeat performance, and the Celtics have yet to get a taste of playoff Kyrie Irving. With a healthy team and their consistent shooting, the Celtics can still make a splash, maybe even more. Remember: they beat Giannis and the Bucks in 7, they beat Embiid and the 76ers in 5, and they might just surprise everyone.