Boston Celtics: Complete Eastern Conference Preview

9 of 9

Mar 4, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and guard Avery Bradley (0) celebrate against the Utah Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics

I would put Brad Stevens’ squad strongly in the ‘Up and Up’ category. What they lack in star power they’ll make up for in balance, with multiple players capable of contributing strong minutes at every position. The Celtics went 20-9 to finish last season, in large part due to the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas, who joined the team on February 19th and only appeared in 21 games. The first round sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers tempered the good feelings a bit, but Boston should pick things up right where they left off prior to that series.

More from Boston Celtics

The reins are being turned entirely over to second-year point guard Marcus Smart. He’s already a ferocious defender and if the offensive game can develop alongside that the Celtics will be in very good hands. He forms a starting backcourt duo with Avery Bradley, another ballhawk, and Thomas will see significant minutes coming off the bench. He’s by far the best scorer the Celtics have and could also be their best distributor as well. He averaged 5.4 assists in just 26 minutes per game with the team last season.

The Celtics don’t have a clear go-to guy in the paint, but should have at least a few big men averaging near double digits, including first-year Celtics David Lee and Amir Johnson. An All-Star as recently as 2013, Lee saw his playing time evaporate last season on a stacked Warriors team with the emergence of Draymond Green. He’ll have an opportunity to play a major role once again in Boston and could be the key to the Celtics really making some noise in the playoffs.

The potential is there for Boston to have a great season. They have the right coach in place and the players will feed off the steady competition for minutes. After the Cavaliers, the conference is wide open and the Celtics are clearly headed in the right direction. This year they should make the leap from surprise postseason berth to dangerous team come playoff time.

Final Predictions

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (64-18)

2. Chicago Bulls (53-29)

3. Atlanta Hawks (51-31)

4. Miami Heat (50-32)

5. Washington Wizards (46-36)

6. Boston Celtics (45-37)

7. Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)

8. Toronto Raptors (41-41)

9. Indiana Pacers (40-42)

10. Detroit Pistons (34-48)

11. Charlotte Hornets (32-50)

12. Brooklyn Nets (31-51)

13. Orlando Magic (29-53)

14. New York Knicks (22-60)

15. Philadelphia 76ers (16-66)

Next: NBA GM Survey: Marcus Smart Breakout and More for Celtics

More from Chowder and Champions