Are the Boston Celtics Finals Contenders?

The Boston Celtics will enter the 2020-21 NBA season as Eastern Conference contenders with mostly the same team. The only major difference is instead of Gordon Hayward, the Celtics now have Tristan Thompson. Boston made the Conference Finals in two of the last three postseasons and despite the great amount of talent on the Celtics’ roster, each playoff result has felt like a surprise. When they are expected to lose in the first two rounds, they make the Conference Finals and even win a few games (2018 and 2020). When they are expected to make the Conference Finals or Finals, they lose in Round 2 (2019). So what will be the story this year? Losing Hayward hurts, but will it hurt the Celtics’ chances at making the finals? I don’t think so.

Are the Boston Celtics Finals Contenders?

For the Boston Celtics, everything needs to go right for them to make their first NBA finals since 2010. Kemba Walker needs to be the All-Star he once was in Charlotte before the knee issues. Jayson Tatum needs to have his second-half breakout emerge for a full season-long. Tatum will need to be at least a 25 point, 8 rebound, 4 assist player with good efficiency and defense if the Celtics want to go to the NBA Finals.

After all, Boston only goes as far as Tatum takes them. However, the biggest X-factor for the Celtics is none other than Jaylen Brown. Brown is coming off a career year, where he averaged over 20 points per game on 58 percent true shooting. Only 12 other qualified players accomplished this feat last season. The loss of Hayward should open up more opportunities for Brown to establish himself. He may even make his first All-Star appearance. 

Losing Gordon Hayward

The loss of Hayward has been quite overblown. Yes, he was their fourth-best player (apologies to Marcus Smart) and was a great scoring punch off the bench. However, the Celtics went 14-6 without him in the regular season and made the Conference Finals with Hayward playing in only one of their first 13 playoff games. The addition of Thompson is more significant. The Celtics’ biggest weakness last season was frontcourt size and now have added one of the league’s best rebounders. Thompson has averaged a double-double in each of his last two seasons and will probably do so again with enough playing time. 

The Celtics got exposed by attempting to guard All-Star Bam Adebayo with Daniel Theis in the Eastern Conference Finals. A defender like Thompson should make that matchup slightly more favorable for Boston. 

True Finals Contenders?

Boston’s youth and excellent coaching should make them one of the best regular-season teams in the NBA. Walker is expected to miss time here and there due to his lingering knee problems. Even with this in mind, the Celtics will probably be a top-three seed at worst. Not many teams boast both an All-NBA talent (Tatum) and an All-Star caliber player (Brown). Even with Walker out, the Celtics will be better than most teams they face. Not to mention Boston was one of the only teams boasting a top-five offense and defense. The Celtics are a team that, on the surface. has few flaws. If all goes right, this could finally be their year the Boston Celtics make the NBA Finals. 

Record Prediction: 49-23

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