The Celtics and the Clippers were the only teams in the league that were in the top 5 in both offense and defense in last year’s regular season.
With an undersized frontcourt, Boston’s perimeter play caused a lot of matchup problems with the combo of Tatum, Brown and Walker. With Milwaukee eliminated in the playoffs rather early, Boston was the favorite to win the East but they couldn’t stop Miami’s guards and they got eliminated by them in six games.
Gordon Hayward was a free agent this offseason and even though he was banged up all the time, his best moment last season was during Boston’s best time in the season as well. Hayward left for Charlotte and this exit will cause problems to the Celtics this season.
Hayward was one of the perimeter players that created mismatches together with Brown and Tatum. Boston didn’t replace him during the offseason, so their hope is that rookie Aaron Nesmith manages to be even a bit impactful immediately on his first season.
Kemba, Brown and Tatum will be the team leaders on offense, but this start of the season won’t be easy for Boston as Kemba is injured and he’s not returning earlier than mid-January. Boston signed Jeff Teague to get some minutes in the backcourt but Teague is very far from having Kemba’s level on offense.
Brad Stevens didn’t trust Enes Kanter on defense and naturally Boston decided to let him leave the team in the offseason. So, the Celtics decided to give a contract to Tristan Thompson, who is a natural fit in Boston’s defensive system. However, he and Daniel Theis will struggle to give more than a limited contribution to the team’s offense.
Boston’s current roster will certainly make them an elite defensive team. However, I believe that the team is a bit limited on offense and they will need a monster season from Jayson Tatum. He had a breakout season last year with solid shooting splits (45.0% FG, 40.3% 3pts and 81.2% FT) and he even averaged 30.7 points per game in the month of February.
The Celtics will also lack some depth in the second unit, especially on offense, so they will really need to have an injury-free season. Boston will be a top 4 contender in the East as usual, but I don’t believe they will be a better team than they were last year given that they lost Hayward.