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Boston Celtics preview review – CelticsBlog

Every year, I write a preview in the preseason and every year I like to look back on that preview. I get to take a victory lap about what I got right and make fun of myself for what I got wrong.

One major point before we jump into this: I wrote this preview before the Jrue Holiday trade which is a significant sliding doors situation. I think this team still could have finished first in the East without that trade, but I don’t necessarily think they would have lapped the field in the regular season like they did. Who knows how happy Malcolm Brogdon would have been and history tells us that Robert Williams III had a high chance of getting hurt again (as he did in Portland).

Anyway, let’s dive into the preview. I started off by arguing with myself over Marcus Smart’s departure. That one still hurts my heart, but ultimately, I think my head was right. And yes, adding Jrue made both my heart and head feel a lot better about the season.

Memphis Grizzlies (91) Vs. Boston Celtics (131) At TD Garden

Photo by Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


Exit Marcus Smart and Grant Williams and enter Porzingis and some new assistant coaches (including Charles Lee from the Bucks). Suffice to say that things are going to look different. They seem to be doubling down on their reliance on 3 pointers and more of a drop coverage defense. That probably translates to continued success in the regular season, but will it carry them through the playoffs this time?

Adding Jrue and subtracting Timelord added another wrinkle to the defense that I didn’t see coming. Holiday now often plays the role of defensive roamer. Perhaps this is over simplifying, but hear me out. Jaylen Brown has always been a better on ball defender or focusing on a single matchup at a time. In the past, he’s been known to get lost off ball in a switch everything type of defense. With Jrue roaming around and Porzingis or Horford laying back in drop coverage, that frees Brown and Tatum up to focus on individuals and/or funnel them to help. I know it isn’t that simple, but in theory it could have played a part in Brown’s defensive progress this year.

Weakness (Injury risk):

Realistic view: Yeah, but Brogdon was dealing with an injury just a few months ago, Porzingis sat out the World Cup for plantar fasciitis, Rob Williams just had his first healthy offseason, and Al Horford is just old and age is undefeated.

Brad took care of two of those risks by dealing for Jrue Holiday and the coaching staff managed the minutes and games of Horford and Porzingis extremely well this season. Injuries can happen at any time for no reason at all, but the team certainly did what they could to minimize the risk during the regular season. Now knock on all the wood you can find for the playoffs.


Banners are always the only goal.

Enough said.


With all that said, I’m still going to pick the Celtics to finish first in the East with a 58-24.

Not bad. I was clearly optimistic. I just didn’t realize they’d be THAT much better. And yes, Jrue probably added a few of those wins himself.

Quick Hit predictions

Brogdon does not end the season in Boston


Porzingis, Williams, and Horford miss fewer than 20 games each

Porzingis missed 25 games and Horford missed 17 games. Unfortunately, Robert Williams played just 6 games for Portland.

Tatum and Brown repeat as All Stars and Tatum finishes 2nd in MVP voting

I should have gone with “top-5” for Tatum’s MVP voting, but I was being optimistic.

Sam Cassell becomes a meme for something he does on the sidelines (and is universally loved by the players)

I think there were a few clips I saw of Sam celebrating, but nothing too meme-worthy (that I recall). Like most assistant coaches, he stayed largely in the background. With that said, I would not be surprised at all if both he and Charles Lee get more than the token mentions for head coaching openings this summer.

Pritchard and Hauser both get larger roles (including the playoffs)

I think I can call that a win. Don’t forget that was anything but a sure thing in the Fall.

Brissett starts the year as a rotation wing; Jordan Walsh finishes the year in that role

Neither got a lot of playing time but Brissett filled in when he was needed and Walsh looks like a long-term keeper based on his development in Maine.

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

There will be times when the team really misses having Grant Williams as an option

I think I can call that a miss. I think he’s better than he showed in Dallas, but it looks like the team correctly decided not to pay him his market value.

Jaylen Brown will finally understand when to drive left and when to pull up or pass out of certain coverages

I think I can call this a win as well. He shored up his left hand considerably and has largely made better driving decisions all year long. He isn’t perfect in these regards and the true test will be in the playoffs as defenders have a whole series to target his weaknesses. However, he’s made progress and that could be the difference between wins and losses in the playoffs.

Banner 18, enough said

I haven’t seen anything that discourages me from this one. This team is ready. They just need to go out there and execute.

Let’s go, Celtics!!!

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