Three Eastern Conference Finals appearances within the last five seasons for the Celtics was the foreseeable stepping stone for a 17th NBA championship. However…
With the 2021-22 NBA tip-off looming closer, many teams are racing to finalise their teams, with some seemingly having done the job.
Examining the East, it would be a safe assumption that the Nets and Bucks, given they remain healthy, will be the two favourites to take out the East.
The Boston Celtics now find themselves in an interesting position.
Just a few years ago, the Celtics had plenty to be excited about. Brooklyn’s biggest name was D’Angelo Russel, the Bucks were racing to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax, Philly were still trying to figure out the Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid situation, and the Celts looked as though the East was theirs for the taking for the foreseeable future.
Fast forward to now, the Nets are a three-headed monster with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. The 76ers, although seemingly set to part ways with Simmons, will no doubt rake in a good haul and can go all-in on building their squad around Embiid.
The Bucks are the reigning champs, and seem to have figured out a squad to compliment Giannis which could see them remain dominant for years. The Celts are a relatively small side compared to these squads, and will need to beef up, so to speak, if they are to stand a chance.
With the continual development of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics have two superstars they can build around. Amid the rising argument that the two cannot coexist, one thing is for sure: Boston have two certified ballers who can do some damage.
The problem Boston faces is that they cannot afford to have Brown (6’6”) guarding in the small forward role, or Tatum (6’8”) guarding in the power forward role, particularly when they are facing teams who have larger bodies in those positions.
For the Celtics to get bigger, they should look to shift the positioning of their two crown jewels. If Brown were played in the shooting guard slot, Tatum could go into the small forward role, leaving Ime Udoka to utilise the services of Robert Williams, Al Horford, or Enes Kanter to fill out the other forward and centre role.
This role switch will allow the Celtics to box-out, rebound and defend at higher levels.
Whichever line-up Udoka decides on, it is clear that if he wants to do better against the better teams in the East, he needs to re-shuffle and upsize the squad, particularly when these games can come down to a one-possession game.