Thirteen games into the 2020-2021 NBA season, the Celtics currently sit with a record of 8-5. That is good enough for third place in the East, sitting behind the 767’ers and the Bucks. So, why does this Boston Celtics team is not on track for where they should be?
First, the obvious answer. COVID-19 made an impact on this squad. Currently, their leading scorer and best player, Jayson Tatum, is sitting out under the NBA COVID Protocols. The team also was forced to miss a small handful of games. Even when they were able to come back, they barely had enough players to put a team together.
The problems with this team go much deeper than missing their best player and dealing with COVID. There is a problem with Head Coach Brad Stevens not being able to get the most out of the players that he has. Not to mention, his offensive strategy is not working for the players that he has to use.
Let’s Be Smart
Lets start with arguably the heart and soul of the team, that is also one of the most glaring weak spots: Marcus Smart. Smart is currently averaging 32.7 minutes a game with 13.3 points per game. That normally would be decent stats for a bench player. Problem is, Smart has been in the starting line up and is shooting a horrific 37% from the floor and 31.4% from the 3 point line. If I had a Nickle for every game that I watched Smart simply heave up a three point shot that either looked awful or completely missed the chance to pass the ball to an open player, I would have $.60!
Next problem would be new Celtic, Tristan Thompson. Thompson has started at Center multiple games. Most recently against Philadelphia, Thompson looked overmatched and overpowered by Joel Embiid. Meanwhile, long time Celtics Center Daniel Theis (the German Thunder) looked great and put in 23 points and 5 rebounds against Embiid.
Celtics Draft Picks
Finally, there are the two draft picks from this past draft. Aaron Nesmith was drafted in the first round and was billed to be a sniper off the bench that could come in and help stretch the score in the second and fourth quarters. So far, Nesmith has 2.6 points per game, 21.7% shooting from the field and a sickly 18.8% from 3. Meanwhile, the other first round pick, Payton Pritchard, has shown flashes of brilliance and provided huge sparks for the team. He may only be averaging 6.4 points per game, but he is averaging 49.4% from the field and 43.6% from 3. Why Pritchard is not in the starting line up over Smart is beyond me and Coach Stevens has totally mishandled the Point Guard position.
Will Boston turn it around and vie to be the top team in the East this year? Not unless we start to see some changes and the team can play at an top level even if they are missing their number 1 player.
Written by: DJ Parker