After making it to the NBA Finals in 2022, the Boston Celtics were the favorites in the Eastern Conference throughout the 2022-23 season. The team led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics to the league’s second best record. Their journey into the Conference Finals against the Miami Heat etched a lasting memory, as they ventured oh-so-close to scripting an epic resurgence from a daunting 0-3 deficit. As you know, Jimmy Butler had other ideas. He and Bam Adebayo proved to be too much for the Celtics.
There have never been questions about the Celtics’ talent, but open questions about their maturity. They ran it back with the lineup featuring Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford, Malcolm Brogdon and the underrated Derrick White and it didn’t work. Things needed to change. The Boston front office didn’t just make some tweaks, but orchestrated some pivotal trades that changed everything. They moved Smart, Williams, and Brogdon and in doing so brought over more offensive firepower without losing too much on the defensive end. It’s evident that the Celtics encountered offensive hurdles during the most pivotal moments of the postseason.
The biggest move was losing Marcus Smart as he was widely regarded as the emotional core of the team, and his departure took even the most astute sports enthusiasts by surprise. Not even the most dedicated fans frequenting the best online sports betting platforms could have predicted this move. It unquestionably alters the team’s dynamics, yet, perhaps, it’s a change for the better, a glimmer of hope cherished by the most ardent supporters.
Now, the burning question inevitably surfaces: Is this the season when the Celtics will ultimately clinch the Championship?
The Two Js – Tatum And Brown
In the previous season, the spotlight was firmly on this dynamic duo as the linchpin for the Celtics’ title aspirations. As we all know, the Celtics fell short of that goal. Many believe that Tatum and Brown are simply too similar to play together. As perimeter front court players that are as liking to attack the basket as they are to shoot a three; there are certainly overlaps. However they are both among the best players in the league and that’s a good place to start if you want an NBA championship.
The one sticking point from last season was Brown’s turnovers. Specifically there are concerns with his ability to handle the ball with his left hand. In the NBA Playoffs, it comes down to the little details and if Brown tightened his handle during the offseason, this could be the difference in 1-2 postseason games.
Can Porzingis open things up?
The die-hard Celtics fans were not only saddened by the Marcus Smart departure. The fans also loved Williams III very much so and they will definitely miss his rebounds. But, truth be told, he was a bit of a liability on the offensive end. He lacked the soft touch that was needed in some important moments. Can the addition of Porzingis make the Boston faithful forget about Smart and Williams?
The coaching staff definitely hopes so. This center is one of those fine European centers that have the soft touch and vision most NBA centers do not possess. He is not Nikola Jokic, but the 7-3 Latvian can also sink those threes rather easily if he is left alone. This will add another dimension to the Celtics game. Most importantly, the threat from Porzingis will open up space for Tatum and Brown to roam freely through the defense. JJ Redick seems to think so:
Jrue is a better version of Smart
While many NBA analysts liked the Porzingis trade, it was a massive move mostly because of what the Celtics gave up in Smart and Williams; two defensive players loved across the Boston Celtic fandom. The jury was out on how much Kristaps would go to improve the Celtics. That all changed after the Damian Lillard trade that ultimately brought Jrue Holiday to the Celtics via the Portland Trailblazers. After getting Jrue, all the questions about how Boston would fare went out the window. In essence, the Celtics got better versions to replace Williams and Smart.
As much as we are a fan of Smart, Jrue Holiday is simply a better version; a better defender, a better offensive player, and similar passing stats.
With a starting lineup that features five NBA All-Stars in Tatum, Brown, Horford, Porzingis, and Holiday, the Celtics appear poised to pose a formidable challenge to most opposing teams this season. Yet, the final piece of the puzzle for them is to ensure they have enough coming off the bench. Without Brogdon and Grant Williams, the only player in the rotation last season was the underrated Derrick White. Payton Pritchard will get a much-deserved expanded role, but after that it’s players that need to prove out their value in the Boston Celtics system.
All that said, that starting five has NBA heads predicting a hugely successful regular season for the Boston Celtics.