At the start of the playoffs, nobody expected the Boston Celtics to go as far as they did. They went up against formidable foes with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat — powerhouses that were stacked with veterans who had years of experience in the league.
The Celtics were a young, streaky team that had two All-Stars and a couple of solid rotational players. They didn’t have the championship experience those other three teams had. In fact, they had no player with NBA Finals experience. And yet Boston defied all the odds and pushed the Golden State Warriors to a Game 6 on the biggest basketball stage.
However, there are questions if this feat was a one-time gig or if Boston can become a consistent contender in the years to come. With their age and newly gained experience, it should be the case, but there’s a lot of work to do before Celtics fans can actually start tattooing “World Champions” on their arms and not be worried about the removal.
Strength in Numbers
The Celtics were basically a two-man show. If Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown had a bad offensive game, Boston struggled to find production elsewhere. They also couldn’t tinker with their lineup too much to find other offensive threats.
Comparing this to Golden State, if Steph Curry or Klay Thompson had a bad offensive game, they could adjust and allow other players such as Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole to take on more of the offensive load. Granted, they were playing well, but it was still the flexibility of the Warriors' system that created advantageous situations for the team.
An example of this would be Jonathan Kuminga. He rarely plays for the loaded GSW squad, but he was able to produce double-digit scoring games because the Warriors put him in situations to succeed. For Boston’s players to have big scoring games, they would need to be able to hit shots.
Can’t put a price on experience
Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Kevon Looney—and even Warriors head coach Steve Kerr—have been in the NBA Finals multiple times. The whole Celtics squad were finals rookies and it was evident in the way they played.
In the playoffs, the game slows down and gets more physical and it requires more half-court execution. Golden State moved without the ball, executed their offense, and forced Boston to try and guard them.
On the contrary, Boston did slow down but leaned on more isolation plays for Tatum and Brown, which tired them out throughout the series. They were using up a lot of energy trying to score against the set defense and Golden State threw a lot of different bodies at them. As the series continued, you could see that Tatum and Brown were absolutely gassed while the Warriors kept getting better.
Ultimately, if I’m the Celtics, I will run it back with these guys.
As much as signing a big free agent or making a blockbuster trade is an exciting move, it doesn’t make sense for the Celtics as their eight-man rotation is quite solid.
Their frontcourt rotation is alright, what they might need is a veteran spark plug, preferably a guard. They could make use of someone who can come in and give them double-digit scoring off the bench just to ease the load off Brown and Tatum, like a Jordan Clarkson or Tyler Herro. Granted, these players aren’t typically the best defensively, but with how the current roster is structured, they can cover for him in exchange for his offensive production.
This Celtics team is one of the teams that is going to be good for years to come, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make another run to the NBA Finals soon.