The NBA season has been suspended for the foreseeable future, but will the break actually be a good thing for the Boston Celtics?
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that Celtics’ guard, Marcus Smart has tested positive for COVID-19. With that in mind, it is hard to imagine a world where the current state of the NBA could possibly be considered a positive. However, for what seems to have been the entire season, The Boston Celtics have not been at full strength.
As previously mentioned, The Celtics have been operating with one hand tied behind their back all season. Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams have all missed significant chunks of time at one point or another and this extended break should make the whole team available again.
This season the Celtics’ starters have been together for just 17 games and have put up an impressive +12.5 net rating.
The biggest threat to Boston this season has been their lack of bench scoring. Perhaps their best offensive weapon off the bench is Marcus Smart (words I never thought I would say), but when one of the starters is not available he is forced into the starting lineup leaving the bench to fend for itself.
Even at full strength, the Celtics do not have much offensive firepower off the bench, however, health has been an enormous reason why Boston’s bench is 29th in scoring.
The Boston Celtics have propelled themselves to an impressive, yet relatively unexpected 43-21 record and the 3rd-seed in the Eastern Conference meaning they are slotted to take on the 6th-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the play-offs.
Boston fans have long since shifted their outlook on this season. In the wake of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford’s departures, Celtics fans were probably looking down the barrel of an above-average season and a second-round exit, but never true title contention even with the addition of Kemba Walker. However, the emergence of Jayson Tatum and a complete culture overhaul has changed that.
The Boston Celtics have repeatedly shown they are capable of competing with the league’s best teams, but despite their struggles, the 76ers won the season series 3-1 over the C’s.
The last meeting between these two teams should give Boston a ton of confidence considering they trounced the full-strength 76ers 116-95 without Kemba Walker.
The Celtics would and should be favored in this matchup, however, a series against the Indiana Pacers would be a much easier first-round matchup.
Overall, Celtics fans should be expecting a deep playoff run if/when this season continues, but as it stands their path is as difficult as it gets.