Almost every purported NBA “expert” has a team other than the Boston Celtics emerging from the Eastern Conference in 2020.
Boston Celtics fans, fear not; your team is a lock to win the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020 and advance to the NBA Finals.
How can I be so sure, you ask?
I’m going to answer your question, with a question: who is going to stop them?
Notable prognosticator, FiveThirtyEight.com, would have you believe the Philadelphia 76ers have far and away the best chance of reaching the Finals of any team in the East, placing their odds of doing so at 54%.
The Boston Celtics? FiveThirtyEight only gave them a 7% chance.
But fortunately for the Celtics and their fans, the “geniuses” over at FiveThirtyEight don’t have a clue.
Don’t let yourselves be fooled, Boston Celtics fans. Outside of your team, the East is weak. It’s terribly weak. And this includes the aforementioned Sixers, who have gotten a whole heck of a lot worse since last season ended.
(The Bucks? Yup, I’m completely writing them off. And rest assured, you can, too. In the 2019 playoffs, eventual champion Toronto had a much harder time dispensing with Philadelphia than Milwaukee. Plus, The Bucks lost their second best player, Malcom Brogdon, to free agency.)
In trades this past season, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired four-time All-star, two-time All-NBA-er, and four-time All-Defensive team member, Jimmy Butler, as well as another All-star caliber player just entering his prime in Tobias Harris.
In doing so, by the numbers, Philadelphia came to field one of the most talented starting lineups in NBA history. If it hadn’t been for the most dramatic of last-second heroics from Kawhi Leonard, it almost assuredly would have been the Sixers hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end instead of the Raptors.
But after the offseason moves Philly both made, and failed to make, to suggest the Sixers are anything other than drastically worse off and ultimately destined to finish behind the Boston Celtics is complete nonsense.
In losing Butler in a trade with the Miami Heat, the Sixers said goodbye to far and away its most accomplished player in terms of person accolades.
Butler was one of the best two-way players to switch teams in an offseason which saw more talent find a new home than any other in recent memory.
Sharp-shooter J.J. Redick ended up deciding to take his talents elsewhere, too, signing with the new look Pelicans.
And if you think the loss of Redick isn’t a big deal, Celtics fans, think again.
He averaged over 18 points per game for Philly last season and provided necessary floor-spacing for the rest of his team to operate, hitting on an impressive 40% of his attempts from deep.
While connecting at such a high clip from three-point land would represent a career year for almost any player in the league outside of the splash-brothers, for Redick, a career .413 percent shooter from three, it was a down year.
Redick’s replacement, Josh Richardson, doesn’t hold a candle to J.J. in terms of shooting efficiency from behind the three-point line.
Expect Philadelphia’s already crowded driving lanes to be even more so in 2019-2020.
The only “meaningful” acquisition the Sixers made this offseason was a well-past his prime years, thirty-three year old, who posted the following, thoroughly mediocre set of statistics in 2018-2019: 13.6 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game.
This stat-line was easily the worst of the player’s career. His rebounds per game average was the lowest of his career, and his points per game was the second lowest.
And just imagine, Celtics fans. The “vaunted” 76ers were crazy enough to sign this underperforming old-fart to a four-year, $109 million contract, a contract which undoubtedly will hamstring the Boston Celtics’ Atlantic Division rivals for years to come.
Yes, you guessed right: we’re talking about none other than former Celtic Al Horford — who is perhaps the most overrated player across the entire NBA landscape.
Proponents of Horford’s game will tell you what Al doesn’t offer in statistical production, he makes up for in intangibles.
But none of Horford’s intangibles (e.g. stoic leadership, setting a good example) prevented last year’s utter debacle from unfolding in the exact, horrifying manner it did.
Personally, I’ll take actual production over Horford’s supposed intangibles every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
And do you know who agrees? Only a couple of the most noteworthy NBA Hall-of-Famers.
Outspoken former league MVP, and member of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History team, Charles Barkley, was comically critical of Horford, when, two seasons ago, he quipped about Horford’s pedestrian per game stat-line averages, “when I was averaging his numbers, they made me retire.”
Again, this was two seasons ago, Celtics fans…
And as many Boston Celtics fans will recall, four seasons ago, when Horford was an all the more young, spry, truly better version of himself, it was Celtics’ legend Tommy Heinson, who, uncharacteristically for Tommy, spoke very harshly about a player on live television.
Tommy started off by being nice enough when describing Horford, simply suggesting Al wasn’t an exceptional talent, contradicting the widespread notion Horford was anything other than good, not great. But when cautioned by local TV personality Kyle Draper, on the grounds the Celtics might pursue Horford in offseason free agency, Heinson defiantly declared, “we don’t want him here!”
This was four seasons ago, when Horford was twenty-nine… and still in his prime.
Until Horford signed with the Celtics in the offseason of 2016, I think we all wondered if it was true Boston couldn’t attract marquee free agents.
However, Horford chose the Boston Celtics, forever dispelling the notion, and indelibly ingratiating himself to the fanbase here.
Now that he’s gone, though, it’s safe to admit how much we overvalued him.
Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones…
Celtics’ fans should celebrate Philadelphia signing Horford to such a lucrative, lengthy and ultimately ludicrous deal. Taken with the team’s other offseason moves, they’re bound to be a much worse group in 2019-2020.
If Philly is indeed the best competition the Eastern Conference has to offer the Boston Celtics this coming season, fans can take for granted the green representing the East in the NBA Finals.
Jayson Tatum has had a difficult time playing for Team USA and now it is time for him to come home to the Boston Celtics.
It is always an honor to get to play for your country, but it definitely hasn’t been a fun time for Jayson Tatum. Boston Celtics fans haven’t gotten to see a lot from the forward.
Before the FIBA World Cup, Tatum just couldn’t get himself going in the team’s warmup games. He looked like a shell of himself on the court. While players like Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker were dominating, Tatum was just lagging behind.
Tatum improved slightly once the games started to matter. In the team’s first two games he averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
But things came crashing down when the young phenom suffered an ankle injury. Boston Celtics fans anxiously waited to find out how severe the injury might be.
Thankfully it appears that Tatum made it out alright. His ankle injury isn’t anything serious. Still I think it is time for Tatum to end his international play for this year.
Now the Celtics have gotten blessed with the ability to kick their season off early. With 4 key players on Team USA, they have gotten a chance to build some chemistry.
But now that Tatum is hurt it is better that he just rests up before the start of the season. There is a chance that he sustains a worse ankle injury if he tries to come back to quickly.
Boston needs Tatum to perform well this season. He will be looked upon to be one of the team’s top scorers. Without Tatum it will be a short season for the Celtics. They need all hands on deck if they want to make a run in the playoffs.
So hopefully Jayson Tatum will focus on resting up instead of trying to play for Team USA.