NBA

Are the Boston Celtics Overachieving or Legitimate NBA Finals Contenders?

The Boston Celtics have emerged to be one of the top teams in the NBA this year. But does this team have what it takes to make it to the NBA Finals?

Sports radio talk show host Nick Wright said on “First Things First” that the Celtics are overachieving on Monday, February 24. “The Celtics are a really good team, an overachieving team,” he said. “That is exactly where they are most comfortable the last 30 years if they don’t have Kevin Garnett: overachieving with a defined ceiling.”

Is Wright right on what he said about the Celtics?

The team has not made the NBA Finals since the 2009 season, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. Before that, their last title came in during the 2008 season with the “Big Three” featuring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

When Kyrie Irving joined the team in 2017, fans thought the Celtics could make a trip or two to the finals. The guard, however, was unsuccessful in his two seasons in Boston.

With a good young core in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and an all-star guard in Kemba Walker, this team has multiple weapons. Is this year’s team make, however, ready to take a run at winning the franchise’s 18th title?

A case could certainly be made.

Boston Celtics: Overachievers or Top Title Contenders

This season, the Boston Celtics are making its case as a legit contender in the Eastern Conference.

Currently sitting in third place in the conference, teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and defending NBA champs, Toronto Raptors, will give the Celtics a run for its money.

On paper, the Celtics starting lineup can match up with any team in the league on most nights. You have an elite point guard in Walker (21.8 ppg and 5.0 apg), who can get a shot off at any time and also make plays for his teammates on offense.

Jayson Tatum (23.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg) is having an all-NBA type season. The first year all-star continues to improve his game and is becoming a dominant player in the league. His ability to create shots off the dribble and in the post is an area he has worked hard on during the offseason.

Jaylen Brown (20.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg) has seen an increase in his minutes and his point value from last season. Brown may be the X-factor for the Boston Celtics team. Brown can go on a scoring surge on any given night if need be, and he is an above-average defender as well.

One question for the Celtics, is can Gordon Hayward help this team reach the finals? It’s evident that he has not been the same since his horrific injury, but if he can continue to be consistent and show improvement throughout the season, he can serve as a big help for Brad Steven’s team.

And you can’t forget about Marcus Smart, who is a dog on the court. His defensive tenacity surely gives the Celtics a boost on that side of the court.

Some concerns for the Celtics are the bench play and the presence of the big man. If this team wants to compete against a team like the Bucks, a solution to stop NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the main issue.

Boston Celtics Big Man Woes

Enes Kanter has not played at his best level this season, but that can change going into the final stretch of the season and into the playoffs. Kanter is currently averaging 8.6 ppg, his lowest average since his second season in the league where he averaged 7.2 ppg with the Utah Jazz.

Kanter has taken a back seat to starting center Daniel Theis, who has shown tremendous improvement in his third year. If the Celtics can get more production out of Kanter of the bench and Theis continues to improve, the chances of making it to the finals would be a lot more likely.

Bench Problems

Looking at the Celtics’, there is really no name who stands out.

And having a decent bench can help a team a lot in the long run, especially in the playoff push. Players like Grant Williams and Brad Wanamaker receive good minutes off the bench, but there are games where the production isn’t where it needs to be.

The Celtics have a young bench for the most part with players who have little experience in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how Stevens utilizes his bench during the playoffs, especially if his main guys are having off games.

Boston Celtics: Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

The Celtics have a chance to get the number two seed in the East when the season ends.

In the last three seasons, the team has made it to the conference semifinals or finals. With Tatum and Brown having that playoff experience, that will help the team out a lot. They are not those same rookies anymore but have established themselves as NBA elites.

And now you had Walker to the mix and a healthy Hayward. This team has the potential to make some noise come April.