The Boston Celtics were the same team last season that they’ve been the last few years. They were a playoff team but didn’t stack up well against the elite competition in the East. Boston finished 36-36 and was bounced in the first round by the Brooklyn Nets in five games.
There were sweeping changes made in the offseason. Danny Ainge stepped down as President of Basketball Operations to make way for Brad Stevens. Stevens then hired Nets assistant Ime Udoka to replace him as the head coach. It’ll be interesting to see how big of a change a new coach makes.
There are many statements being made about this year’s squad, but we’ve got you covered with our Fact or Fiction series. It features the biggest claims being made about the Celtics and gives you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
The Celtics Improved This Offseason
Usually when a team adds quality players like Dennis Schroder, Kris Dunn, and Josh Richardson you’d think they improved in the offseason. However, Boston also lost Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, and Tristan Thompson. So, Boston didn’t really improve this offseason. All they did was fill positional holes that were created by letting Walker, Fournier, and Thompson go.
Basketball-Reference uses a statistic to measure how many wins a player contributes to their team called “win shares”. It’s basketball’s equivalent to baseball’s Wins Above Replacement statistic. Last season, the Celtics’ big three departures (Walker, Fournier, and Thompson) combined for 7.3 wins. However, Boston’s big three additions (Schroder, Dunn, and Richardson) only combined for six wins last season.
Verdict: Fiction, They Only Replaced Players
The Celtics Are Legit Title Contenders
One of the definitions for the word legit on Google is “extremely good.” Are the Celtics an extremely good team? No. As mentioned above, the Celtics didn’t improve this offseason. Last year, they were a .500 team and won one game in the first round of the playoffs. Because Boston didn’t get better, how is it fair to think they’ll go far in the playoffs?
On paper, Boston isn’t a top-four seed in the East. It seems like they would play the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, or Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. All four of those teams are expected to win more games than Boston. We haven’t even mentioned the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, who look destined for a second straight playoff appearance. It’s hard to confidently say the Celtics will be better than either of those teams.
Verdict: Fiction, It Will Be the Same Story
Tatum is an Elite Player
The first two statements weren’t true but this one is. Jayson Tatum is one of the best players in the league. The Celtics would’ve been swept by Brooklyn if Tatum wasn’t playing. He dropped 50 points in Boston’s Game 3 win at the TD Garden. In the playoffs, he averaged over 30 points a game. It makes it easier to say Tatum is an elite player because of how great he played last year. Tatum had his best season yet, averaging 26.4 points per game with a career high in assists. The 23-year-old finished ninth in total points, ahead of Zion Williamson, Trae Young, and Joel Embiid.
Not only is Tatum great when he’s on the floor, but he’s on it all of the time. Last year, he started 64 of his team’s 72 games while leading Boston in minutes per game (35.8). There’s no doubt that Tatum is an elite player and he’s getting paid like one, too. Tatum is currently under a five-year, $163+ million contract.
Verdict: Fact, He’s the Real Deal
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Main Image Credit: https://www.masslive.com/celtics/2020/08/boston-celtics-sign-brad-stevens-to-a-contract-extension-details-not-disclosed.html