2019 Celtics Playoff Picture

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2019 Celtics Playoff Picture

Will Burger '20 and Basim Hussain '20

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As the regular season wraps up, there are major concerns over how the Boston Celtics are going to perform in this year’s NBA Playoffs. The Celtics finished the regular season 49-33, which was disappointing considering the high expectations. Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Eastern Conference is much stronger than it has been in years past, so they’re really going to have to battle to have success in the playoffs. In the first round, the Celtics will be taking on the 5th seed Pacers who once seemed threatening, but they’ve looked vulnerable since losing their star player Victor Oladipo to a season ending leg injury.

Since the All-Star break, they haven’t been able to hit their stride struggling to close out games late in the fourth quarter. Most recently, against the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics broke down defensively allowing D’Angelo Russell to excel and score 20 points in the third quarter alone. This has been a continuing trend when it comes to the defensive side of things for the Celtics. Earlier this month when the Kyrie-led starting five hit the court against the Los Angeles Clippers out in California they suffered a crushing blow losing the game 115 to 140. During the game, the Celtics allowed three players to score over twenty points: Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari. Lou Williams ended up having himself a career night, dropping 34 points and becoming the highest scoring bench player in the history of the NBA. If the Celtics plan on making a deep playoff run they must address their problems on defense and limit opponent scoring.

Another area the Celtics must improve is on the offensive side of the ball. With Kyrie in the lineup, it seems as if Brad Stevens is giving him the freedom to command the offense and to do what he wants on the court. However, this has resulted in the Celtics playing reactionary basketball instead of their signature quick moving and pass-friendly offense. Ball movement has been much too stagnant and isolation plays have been through the roof, leading to poor offense for the Celtics. If there is not a variety of plays each game on offense, opposing teams will find it easier to defend against the Celtics, which will cause scoring problems across the team. Also, many players are new to the team and the level that they are playing at for the Celtics, among those is Gordon Hayward, recently coming back from injury. The players really need to come together as a unit in order to really start clicking and working well together to be able to take down the higher seeded teams, avoid a loss from a lower seed in the playoffs and perform well enough at this point in the season.

Although they’ve clinched and secured a spot in the playoffs, there is still a big question mark regarding what to expect and how the Celtics will perform, as they need to increase their team chemistry and work together if they want any shot of winning a championship. Star players must step up and also raise the rest of the team up together to have an easier time in the demanding 2019 playoffs.