The Boston Celtics look very different from top to bottom this year.
After Danny Ainge stepped down.Brad Stevens moved up from the bench to the front office as the team’s new general manager. Now,Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the rest of the Celtics have a new coach as Ime Udoka ushers in a new era on the sideline for Boston.
Meanwhile, the Celtics also moved on from Kemba Walker just two seasons after signing him to a max deal, bringing back a familiar face in Al Horford.
Stevens rebuilt the Celtics’ bench, which was suspect last season, with the additions of Dennis Schröder, Josh Richardson and Enes Kanter. Boston may not have as much firepower as it did in the 2019-20 season when they made the Eastern Conference Finals, Stevens did the most with the limited cap space that he had.
The Celtics disappointed in the 2020-21 campaign, partly because of injuries and losing several players to COVID-19, but the team underachieved as a whole going 36-36 and earning the No. 7 seed in the East.
For that to change in the 2021-22 season, Boston must find more consistency around Tatum and Brown. The Celtics were 2-6 in the eight games Tatum missed last season and 6-8 in the 14 games Brown missed.
Former first-round picks Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford and Grant Williams all have a chance to prove that they can play meaningful minutes for Boston this season, and their development will be crucial to the team’s overall success. The wing depth behind Brown and Tatum is suspect after Richardson, and it could be an area the team chooses to address at the trade deadline if none of the aforementioned players takes the next step.
Boston Celtics Win Total Prediction | 45.5 (Over -120/Under +100)
Oddsmakers clearly expect the Celtics to take a major step forward this season with this win projection favored to the over.
It’s not surprising, as Tatum and Brown are both coming off All-Star appearances and arguably the best seasons of their careers, but there is a lot in question for Boston as well.
How will this team mesh with Udoka’s coaching style? Who will step up off the bench with Schröder? Can Al Horford still be a major contributor at this stage in his career?
If you believe in the Celtics, especially if you think Tatum and Brown continue to improve, the over is worth a shot. However, the Celtics aren’t nearly as deep with talent as they were in the 2019-20 campaign with a healthy Walker and Gordon Hayward, so they’ll need some of their young pieces to step up or for Richardson and Schroder to find their top form to compete for another ECF berth.
Boston Celtics Playoff Odds
WynnBET has the Celtics as a near lock to make the playoffs at -500 (they’re +300 to miss), and they should be a shoe-in to finish in the East’s top 10 teams to at least earn a play-in berth.
I am actually high on Boston this year. I think that the Schroder signing may have gotten overlooked, but it was a great value move to replace Walker. Nesmith showed some flashes on offense last season and Langford is a proven defender, so if one of them can become a more complete player, the Celtics’ depth will certainly receive a boost.
What it comes down to for Boston is can it jump ahead of the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat to get into the top four? I’m not completely sold on that, but I’d be surprised if the C’s found themselves competing in the play-in tournament for the second straight season.