What do we have here? Are the C's for real?

Jimbodandy

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The Celtics, with largely the same core, were .500 all of last year - they weren't some juggernaut entering the season.

It was clearly unrealistic to expect a team with a brand new coaching regime with different areas of emphasis to avoid struggling early on, especially absent a lot of preseason time together. It was also unrealistic to expect this team to perform well when various core players missed time due to protocols, injuries etc. And it was unrealistic to expect this team not to struggle when both Tatum and Brown aren't playing their best.

So yes, there were more than a few fans who didn't scale their expectations properly. Their defense is amazing and they are playing better right now. However I would argue that any championship aspirations for this team are a bit premature. This team was 18-21 just over five weeks ago and that clearly happened if anyone wants to go back to look at posts about getting a top pick, selling off assets, trading parts of the core etc.

I am not trying to rain on the parade here - I am just not ready to attend yet.
Agreed.

I see the reasons for optimism too. Good points above about the upgrade of both Williamses. And White is surely an upgrade.

I think that the new floor for this team is a trench warfare series loss in round 1, which would be disappointing but not depressing (if that makes sense). And they can definitely do more if the shooting has indeed started to return (and with health of course).
 

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Cesar Crespo

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I think judging a team on a 9 game winning streak is going to lead to a lot of rosy opinions.

I'm not entirely convinced they are in the top 6 at years end. I figured they would be battling for that spot but that was looking optimistic in December. Looking realistic now.
 

RorschachsMask

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I think judging a team on a 9 game winning streak is going to lead to a lot of rosy opinions.

I'm not entirely convinced they are in the top 6 at years end. I figured they would be battling for that spot but that was looking optimistic in December. Looking realistic now.
It’s not just a 9 game winning streak though, they’ve won 16 of 20. Sure it hasn’t been the hardest stretch, but I don’t think it’s a rosy opinion that they could maybe get to the ECF, depending on who they match up with.

If they win tonight, they are a 15-7 stretch away from 50 wins. That seems relatively realistic to me.
 
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nighthob

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What's going to happen in the playoffs with Kyrie? I have to imagine they're going to find a way to let him play in away games, right? Even at Full Strength, if Williams is healthy, I think it's a dogfight series. Same with the Bucks.
At the beginning of the season I was a big believer in the Durant/Harden Nets. If healthy that team was a real contender. Well, guess what? That team is gone. And the new look Nets are not healthy. Not physically and not mentally. The third star they just added has a really fragile personality and is being airdropped into a clubhouse with two of the NBA's bigger weirdos. I am not a believer in the '22 Nets. Now the Bucks are going to be a dogfight, for Boston, but the odds are better than even that it's Brooklyn's road to the second round goes through Milwaukee, not Boston's. And I just don't see the Nets beating the Bucks.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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If the Cs an make it to the Finals, they can win the whole thing. There's not a team in the West that the Cs can't play with. (Watching Chris Paul and Devin Booker go against Smart and White in a 7 game series would be sweet.)

NBA playoffs are about matchups and in terms of matchups, except for BRK assuming their pieces fit together and they stay healthy, the Cs match up with anyone. (Al really helps with this.)

Since there are a lot of good teams this year and no great team (I'll include the Cs in this and defer on BRK if and when their big 3 play together), I wouldn't say BOS has a shot. But to me, they have the best defense in the NBA when healthy, and that makes them a contender. Just one stat: there have been something like 13 games in the NBA where teams have been held under 34% shooting. The Cs have 4 of them and 3 in the last month-ish.
 

OnTheBlack

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The defense isn’t just good. It’s best in the NBA by a wide margin good as of late. There just isn’t a guy to attack on D, and if you do get through rob Williams is paying the best free safety since Ed reed. it’s pretty remarkable to watch. That makes them a contender in any series. i think it’s fair to have raised expectations at this point assuming health - no one else in the NBA is particularly scary, they can hang with anyone.
 

radsoxfan

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Celtics are the runaway title favorites per 538: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2022-nba-predictions/

My numbers are uh, somewhat less optimistic, but I think there's something here. If they have a deep run, it won't be a "nobody saw that coming" situation at the very least.
Is 538 a massive outlier compared to some of the other advanced metrics? Where would you slot them if you had to rank the contenders?

As was pointed out, they aren't exactly a runaaway on 538. They weren't even in 1st until yesterday on the player ratings and not 1st on ELO (way behind Phoenix).

As everyone else said, the D is legit. Barring injuries, they really should be the best defensive team in the NBA.

That alone isn't going to win a playoff series against the top teams of course. If Tatum plays like a top 8 guy (looking more and more possible) AND they get a moderate shooting uptick across the board (also not crazy) I think they are in the mix.
 

Cellar-Door

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Is 538 a massive outlier compared to some of the other advanced metrics? Where would you slot them if you had to rank the contenders?

As was pointed out, they aren't exactly a runaaway on 538. They weren't even in 1st until yesterday on the player ratings and not 1st on ELO (way behind Phoenix).

As everyone else said, the D is legit. Barring injuries, they really should be the best defensive team in the NBA.

That alone isn't going to win a playoff series against the top teams of course. If Tatum plays like a top 8 guy (looking more and more possible) AND they get a moderate shooting uptick across the board (also not crazy) I think they are in the mix.
ESPN's BPI model has them top in the East, 2nd overall to PHX: https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/page/BPI-Playoff-Odds/espn-nba-basketball-power-index-playoff-odds
Bref has them top in the East but 4th overall: https://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/playoff_prob.html
 

radsoxfan

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Thanks. Interesting to see the betting favorite Nets so low on these metrics.

Of course there is a reason given their current place in the standings, the Kyrie/Simmons issues etc. But they are beyond long shot in the metrics yet people put them up there as basically the #1 contender. I don't see it.
 

Cellar-Door

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Thanks. Interesting to see the betting favorite Nets so low on these metrics.

Of course there is a reason given their current place in the standings, the Kyrie/Simmons issues etc. But they are beyond long shot in the metrics yet people put them up there as basically the #1 contender. I don't see it.
half their team hasn't played any/many games, and some of the metrics probably don't really account for Curry coming in
 

CSteinhardt

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This team has actually ended up being pretty close to what I thought it would be before the season started - just under 50 wins, a solid crunch time lineup, but still clearly weaker than the top of the conference. I think it's important to keep in mind that the recent improvement has come with a significantly shortened rotation. Other teams are going to shorten their rotations in the playoffs and get stronger, and the Celtics don't really have that option.

So, there's a good case to be made that they're next behind the top 3 in the East, but that when everybody shortens their rotations, the Bucks, Nets, and Sixers still have another gear that the Celtics don't. An additional positive here is that the Celtics are still a young team, and any injury luck is more likely to help than it is to hurt. So, I think anybody who can get +4000 or +5000 to win a title is probably doing well. But I think they're still a contender for 4th best in the East, not favorites to make the finals or anything like that.
 

nighthob

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That Nets gear might be mythical. And they very well could need it in the first round playing Milwaukee.
 

bowiac

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That Nets gear might be mythical. And they very well could need it in the first round playing Milwaukee.
Or you know, losing a play-in game to Toronto cause Kyrie is ineligible to play in either Brooklyn or Toronto.

The 538 ratings are somewhat outliers in that they grade the Celtics as materially stronger than any other team in the NBA. My numbers have the Celtics 3rd in the NBA after the White trade. But my ratings are tuned to the regular season rotations, and not the tighter playoff rotations.

The Inpredictable ratings, which are based off of implied ratings from betting markets, have the Celtics 1st in the East and 3rd in the NBA. These are sort of a "nowcast", and likewise regular season oriented.
 

nighthob

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Yeah, if they can't reach the top 6, those play-in games are going to be a nightmare for the Nets. I find it a lot easier to believe in Boston and Philly leapfrogging the Cavs than in the Nets playing .800 ball the rest of the way.
 

Euclis20

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Second night of a back to back and the Celtics were down a couple of starters, but they still had Tatum/Brown, at home, against the worst team in the league. That is, not great.
 

RSN Diaspora

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Second night of a back to back and the Celtics were down a couple of starters, but they still had Tatum/Brown, at home, against the worst team in the league. That is, not great.
Indeed not, but it had all the makings of a trap game: nine-game winning streak, last game before the ASB, and not only down two starters but one of whom probably would've at least cut into the massive rebounding deficit. It sucks to lose to such a terrible team, and it's perfectly reasonable to be upset about it, but it doesn't negate the sea change. Health TL and healthy Marcus after the ASB? I ain't gonna bet on us winning the Eastern Conference, but we're gonna be competitive.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Indeed not, but it had all the makings of a trap game: nine-game winning streak, last game before the ASB, and not only down two starters but one of whom probably would've at least cut into the massive rebounding deficit. It sucks to lose to such a terrible team, and it's perfectly reasonable to be upset about it, but it doesn't negate the sea change. Health TL and healthy Marcus after the ASB? I ain't gonna bet on us winning the Eastern Conference, but we're gonna be competitive.
If there is one thing you can't do with the Boston Celtics, it is assume health. When healthy, the team is pretty good. When they are missing a rotation player or two, they are pretty bad because there is 0 depth.

Top Heavy teams are good come playoff time, assuming they can get to the playoffs healthy.
 

bakahump

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...it is assume health. When healthy, the team is pretty good. When they are missing a rotation player or two, they are pretty bad because there is 0 depth.
Well thats Brooklyns MO currently as well.

If your missing good players (admittedly they are missing Stars and we are missing strong supporting players), your gonna struggle.

We have also been dinged throughout the 9 game streak for playing teams that were missing players.

So we are certainly not alone in this.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Well thats Brooklyns MO currently as well.

If your missing good players (admittedly they are missing Stars and we are missing strong supporting players), your gonna struggle.

We have also been dinged throughout the 9 game streak for playing teams that were missing players.

So we are certainly not alone in this.
Nope. But if Brooklyn doesn't have their stars, they aren't going anywhere either. Hopefully the C's are healthy because they could potentially make some noise. That looked like the case last year and then Jaylen Brown got injured.
 

RorschachsMask

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Something that bodes well for the Celtics in the postseason, while they are 18th in overall offensive efficiency, they are actually 11th in half court offense.

Makes sense I guess, Tatum has gone from 90th percentile as a transition scorer to 63rd this year, while Jaylen has gone from 55th percentile to 29th.
 

RorschachsMask

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Meaning they are poorer transition scorers than they used to be?
Yeah the team as a whole has been dreadful in transition, starting with those two. Tatum is averaging 1.18 PPP in transition, after being at 1.39 last year. Jaylen is at 1.00 PPP, after 1.14 last season.
 

NomarsFool

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I would guess more turnovers in transition than last year. I feel like there have been a lot of missed opportunities due to throwing the ball away when trying to quickly push the ball up the floor (not that they shouldn’t do that). I do think we also see a lot of Jaylen, in particular, going one on two or three in transition and coming away with nothing.
 

RorschachsMask

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I would guess more turnovers in transition than last year. I feel like there have been a lot of missed opportunities due to throwing the ball away when trying to quickly push the ball up the floor (not that they shouldn’t do that). I do think we also see a lot of Jaylen, in particular, going one on two or three in transition and coming away with nothing.
Jaylen is turning it over about 5% less in transition than last year, which surprised me TBH. He’s just not finishing well on the break, and as you said, drives into 2/3 guys too often.

https://www.nba.com/stats/players/transition/?sort=POSS&dir=1