The Boston Celtics. One of the most storied NBA franchises of all time. Along with having the most championships for an NBA franchise, the memories this organization has given to fans of basketball around the world is nothing short of spectacular. Now, we direct our focus onto today’s Celtics roster and ask ourselves, is this team truly a title contender?
First, taking a look at a team’s starting lineup is one of the main components in determining whether or not a team is a title contender. The Boston Celtics starting lineup is one that many teams yearn for around the league. At the helm, they have multiple time all-star, Kemba Walker. Coupled with Walker, they have first time all-star and scoring machine Jayson Tatum. Along with these two, they have Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Daniel Theis.
This lineup varies upon who Brad Stevens feels like playing on a particular night, sometimes throwing in Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, but it’s safe to say this starting lineup is one of the best in the league. Kemba Walker has been a near-perfect offensive facilitator this year, incorporating everyone in the offense in some sort of way. Jayson Tatum has finally blossomed into the elite scorer everyone knew he would become out of Duke (averaging 23 points per game), although his efficiency has been questioned at times (shooting 44% on the year). Along with this team’s offensive success, their defense has been superb. With a combination of Jaylen Brown’s defensive versatility and Marcus Smart’s gritty defense, the Celtics have only been allowing their opponents to score around 106 points per game (Foxsports.com), which is tied for second-best in the league.
Along with this, the Celtics opponents have only been shooting around 44%(Foxsports.com), which is good enough for 4th best in the league. The Celtics bench consists of players such as Enes Kanter and Marcus Smart, along with some young bucks named Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, and fan-favourite Tacko Fall. This bench is solid, but around the middle of the pack.
Next, determining whether or not a team has that “it” factor is instrumental. The “it” factor can only be explained as having a player that can change the course of a game instantaneously, which is where the gray area for the Celtics kicks in. Some may argue that Kemba Walker is this factor. With how little playoff experience Walker has, no one can say for sure that Walker can be this for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum can also be this factor, as he has shown glimpses in the playoffs every year of his career, during his rookie year. With Tatum being so young, it’s a bit far fetched to label him as the “it” factor so early in his career.
With so many question marks being brought up in this category, the Celtics may not even have an “it” factor as of right now. This is huge when determining what teams are contenders for a championship and which aren’t. Players like LeBron, Giannis, Kawhi, etc… have already proven to be this factor for their respective teams.
Lastly, it’s imperative to look at how the team has done so far. The Celtics are currently 39-16, good enough for 3rd in the east. Although this record is great, it does show some weaknesses. The Celtics are about .500 against every top team in the East, but they have had some trouble with the Philadelphia 76ers, losing three games to them and only winning one. This may prove that when going against a team with a good big man, the Celtics are simply overmatched at this position. Obviously, this isn’t set in stone, but it may be something to watch out for come playoff time.
All in all the Boston Celtics are a very good team. Their defense is superb, their offense is fairly good, and their bench is solid. So far, they have impressed NBA fans globally with the ability to lose their two best players and still have a great year. On the other side, some questions are brought up when considering if they have a real shot at winning the title this year. Do the Celtics have that “it” factor that almost every championship team has? Do they have the ability to guard very good centers? These questions alone lead me to believe that the Boston Celtics are a team that can go far in the playoffs, perhaps even make the Eastern Conference Finals, but are not a title contender.