The Boston Celtics’ season is off to a hot start with a 7-2 record. So far, Boston’s offseason accusations have been seamless fits. Everything is shaping up for the Celtics to compete for a title. While the season is still early, some clear takeaways and trends will remain relevant throughout the year. Here’s what we’ve learned about the Celtics nine games into their season.
4 Early Season Boston Celtics Takeaways
The Celtics’ additions of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday gave them increased versatility on both ends. This benefits the Celtics on offense as they have increased spacing and overall firepower. Defensively, it better equips Boston against different playstyles. Additionally, it gives the Celtics a plethora of lineup options around their stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It allows Boston to go big with Porzinigs, Al Horford, and the wings. They also have the option of going smaller next to the wings, with some combination of Holiday, Derrick White, Sam Hauser, and Payton Pritchard. Then they have the incredible starting five of Holiday, White, Brown, Tatum, and Porzingis. The starting lineup is so well-rounded, and everyone compliments each other perfectly. These options allow the Celtics to match up with any team, further cementing Boston’s championship upside as a result.
Jrue Holiday and Derrick White’s Incredible Defense
From the moment Holiday was traded to the Celtics, the defensive fit alongside White was intriguing. The duo forms the league’s best defensive backcourt, and they have exceeded defensive expectations. The pairing unsurprisingly perfectly equips Boston against elite guards and perimeter scoring. Their ability to defend the interior causes this pairing to exceed expectations. It’s well known that Holiday and White are two of the best guard defenders and are highly versatile.
This ability has been on full display with White’s elite shot-blocking. White averages a block and a steal per game. His blocks often include stuffing much taller players at the rim. Holiday has impressively guarded big men such as Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns. Holiday has more than held his own against these big men. He even caused Towns to have an awful performance, including an absurd seven turnovers. Ultimately, this guard pairing raises the Celtics’ defensive upside and gives them insane versatility.
Sam Hauser: Ready for a Bigger Role
During the past two seasons, Hauser has shined in his limited role. He also established himself as an elite spot shooter in the process. Hauser has seen his minutes increase from 16 to 19 per game this year. His minutes increase is paired with a scoring raise to 9.3 PPG and an incredible 3PT% of 45.3 per game. As a result of the Celtics’ increased versatility and flexibility, more minutes should be available for Hauser. Joe Mazzulla should explore more lineups with Hauser, Tatum, Porzinigs, and Brown. This pairing would be perfect for Hauser as it surrounds him with elite spacing, size, and defense. Nevertheless, Hauser’s efficiency, shooting, and improvements clearly warrant his consideration for more minutes. Hauser has proven he’s ready for a bigger role, and it’s only a matter of time before it happens.
Elite Floor Spacing
Since I recently wrote an article on the Celtics floor spacing, I won’t harp on it too much. The point is, it’s amazing. The Celtics’ elite starting five gives them unprecedented spacing and three-point shooting threats, all while having high-end bench shooters like Horford, Hauser, and Pritchard. This elite roster is unsurprisingly the fourth-best offense in the league, with an incredible 118.5 offensive rating. Additionally, they are 13th in the league in three-point shooting with 43.7 attempts per game while shooting a quality 36.1% from deep. Boston’s spacing also benefits Tatum and Brown as finishers. The Celtics have plenty of benefits from this spacing, including easier rim pressure, more ball movement, easier shots, and better shooting. Ultimately, this ability raises the Celtics’ upside and gives them a clear identity.