Boston Celtics: season preview

With the trade for Jrue Holiday, the Boston Celtics have elevated themselves to a whole new level, standing alongside the Milwaukee Bucks as an elite class in the Eastern Conference. If last season’s Eastern Conference elite resembled a triumvirate, including the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics and Bucks now look like a separate league.

Once again, the Celtics enter the season as one of the main contenders for the championship. While it wouldn’t be accurate to say they failed in past attempts, their championship tally has not increased. If they don’t achieve success in the next season or two, it could test the patience of both the fans and the team’s leadership. This year’s Boston Celtics are a team to watch online.

Key Facts

Last season’s results: 2nd place, 57-25.


Arrivals – Delano Benton, Jrue Holiday, Svi Mykhailiuk, Jordan Walsh (38th pick), Kristaps Porzingis.

Departures – Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Daniel Theis.

What to Expect from the Team

After last year’s “brain drain,” which saw the departure of Ime Udoka, Will Hardy, and Damon Stoudamire from the coaching staff, and Brad Stevens moving from the head coach to a front-office role, one of the Celtics’ problems was the coaching staff not matching the level of the players, particularly in the playoffs. This summer, Sam Cassell and Charles Lee joined the coaching staff.

Both assistants have significant experience assisting head coaches. Charles Lee spent the last ten years working with Mike Budenholzer, first in Atlanta and then in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Sam Cassell spent the last ten years working under Doc Rivers. Rivers, by the way, is an old acquaintance of the Boston faithful, having helped the Celtics win their most recent title in 2008.

During the offseason, the Celtics made some significant roster moves. They traded away Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and decided not to renew Grant Williams’s contract. In return, they acquired Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. Essentially, they swapped four quality role players of varying strength for two “almost All-Stars.” In this trade, it’s not a matter of increasing the total number of coins but rather improving their quality. In the NBA, it’s not a pocket that can burst from too many coins. Sometimes in basketball, it’s necessary to have enough of the same “coins,” meaning rotation depth. However, quality usually wins championships. Just as Milwaukee improved with the acquisition of Holiday last year, Boston looks to upgrade with Holiday replacing Smart.

You could debate whether it’s better to have two players like Brogdon and Smart or just Holiday, but only the future will provide the answer. What I know for sure is that Pritchard will get more opportunities with both Smart and Brogdon leaving. The Celtics have invested in Pritchard, recently signing him to a $30 million, 4-year deal. Due to the simultaneous departures of Smart and Brogdon, I’m convinced he will get the extra minutes that are critical for normal progression. The acquisition of Holiday should also be considered in the context of potential future matchups against the Milwaukee Bucks and Damian Lillard, specifically.

Player to Watch: Kristaps Porzingis

Despite being a somewhat injury-prone player with a personality that might not relish a return to his role in Dallas, where he had to stand in the corner and be a shooter, Kristaps Porzingis’s career-best season with the Washington Wizards, where the Latvian big man averaged 23+8 while shooting nearly 50% from the field and 38.5% from three on 5.5 attempts per game, presents him with the first real chance in his career to compete for a title. This means he’ll have to rein in his temperament and give his all in both offense and defense.

Prediction: 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.

Comments are closed.