Corey Bourassa takes a look at the chances of the Boston Celtics making the playoffs for next season. Quite a few things have changed in the Eastern Conference this offseason, allowing for a excitement to build for this upcoming season. Boston will have had to vastly improve this offseason, and we will see if those necessary improvements were made in this article.
The Celtics have been quite busy this offseason, even though no big moves were made, and looks like there is still more to come from Danny Ainge. The Celtics signed forwards Amir Johnson, as well as resigning Jonas Jerebko and Jae Crowder. Boston also landed David Lee and Perry Jones via trades. The Celtics drafted three guards in the 2015 NBA draft, and the two noticeable guards were, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. Boston has greatly improved its scoring options, as well as increased their overall depth this offseason. Their division does not possess many threats, but not winning the divsion can spell doom for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics finished last season with a record of 40-42, which was good enough for second in the Atlantic Division, 9 games behind Toronto. Going into next season, Boston has a legitimate shot at dethroning Toronto, and claiming the division for themselves. In the division, you have the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets. New York is at a lost for an identity right now, and even though they have made good free agent signings this offseason, they do not have the talent to make the playoffs quite yet. They will be an improved team, but a team like Boston can easily beat them. Philadelphia is still in tank mode, so they are really no threat to anyone. Okafor will help make their team more watchable, but he alone will not be able to lead this team out of the despair they are in. Brooklyn is a wildcard team to watch for next season, as no one knows what to expect from them. They have a hole at the point guard position, but the rest of their team is deep, and could present a challenge for Toronto and Boston, if they come together as a team. The Toronto Raptors did lose Amir Johnson to division rival Boston, but they did obtain DeMarre Carroll. Toronto is weak at the four position, and with the addition of David Lee, Boston could look to use that as a way to dethrone Toronto. The Atlantic Division will come down to the wire with Toronto and Boston, but Toronto has the slight edge to take the division, due to their past experiences, and more reliable scorers. So with the presumption Boston does not win the division and clinch a playoff berth, they will have to battle quite a few teams for the remaining playoffs spots.
The Boston Celtics are facing quite a few new teams for competition for the final playoffs spots this year. The Miami Heat have retooled themselves with good free agent signings, and many have them pegged as a top four team in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has lost their interior depth, but they have a healthy, determined Paul George coming back, as well as giving him a scoring partner in Monta Ellis. Brooklyn, as talked about before can be a wildcard team. Their depth and chemistry will be key if they want any shot of making the playoffs. Detroit has stayed under the radar for most of the offseason, but they have made great improvements. Even with the loss of Greg Monroe, which might be a godsend for Detroit, they have improved their perimeter defense, and added more shooters around Andre Drummond. Detroit will likely be competing for the 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, which is exactly where Boston will be competing, so the match-ups between these teams will be a must watch for basketball fans. Atlanta lost a big contributor in DeMarre Carroll, and without the addition of another scorer this offseason, Atlanta could be looking at a free fall in the standings. Atlanta still has a playoff capable team, but it will be a much greater challenge for them to actually make the playoffs. Charlotte is the last major threat for a playoff spot, but in all honesty they do not have the talent to even compete for a top nine spot in the Eastern Conference. They did not use their draft pick well, and with the greater improvements within their conference they are just the odd man out.
Now that Boston’s competition has been acknowledged, I will present the reason Boston has a good chance of making the playoffs over these other teams. The main reason the Celtics have a good chance to make the playoffs is because of there bench depth. Guys like Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, and R.J. Hunter, allow for the guards to stay well rested, and provide different types of scoring options, as well as defensive opportunities. The forward positions are incredibly deep, and will provide many different options for them to use. The veteran leadership, scoring, and rebounding David Lee brings will be crucial to a playoff run for the Celtics. At center, which is the weakest position on the roster, you have Kelly Olynk and Tyler Zeller. With the depth the Celtics have at guard, I expect one of them to be traded during the course of the next few months, as Boston looks to improve this position, as no defensive potential is currently on the roster for center. Mickey is a good shot blocker, but standing at 6’8 he would not survive against NBA centers, and that is why he is more suited for a power forward role. On paper the bench does look great, but we will have to see if everyone can coexist, and accept less playing time, as they are the weapon Boston has to make the playoffs. Many Eastern Conference teams will be in the hunt for a playoff spot, but the Celtics have a chance to show the world again how underrated they are, while still in the process of rebuilding.
By: Corey Burrassa and Mac Crowe