The Celtics have not beaten either of the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets in five matches this season. But in the playoffs, the Celtics can prove to be a difficult proposition.
Why the Boston Celtics are the team to avoid in the NBA playoffs first round
Despite starting the season on a high note, the Boston Celtics have found it tasking to put together a consistent winning run for most of the regular season. However, their below-par display this season is not a testament to their ability.
The Boston Celtics are a storied NBA playoffs team, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most championships (17). In the past ten years, the Celtics have missed the playoffs just once.
Irrespective of how they play in the regular season, the Boston Celtics always show up ready during the playoffs. With that said, here are three reasons why the Celtics will be the team to avoid in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
#1 - Recent history of excellent performances in the playoffs
The three seasons between 2013 and 2016 were terrible for the Boston Celtics. They failed to make the postseason once while getting knocked out in the first round on two other occasions.
The franchise was able to turn things around post that and consistently make it to the playoffs. In the last four seasons, the Boston Celtics have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals thrice and were beaten in the conference semis once.
In 2018, the Celtics sent home the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. In the 2019-20 season, the Philadelphia 76ers met the same fate with a sweep in the bubble. Interestingly, the 76ers bested the Celtics three out of four times in the regular season.
#2 - Players with playoff experience
The Boston Celtics have several players on their roster with playoff experience. A healthy Celtics team will give any playoff contender a run for their money.
The two standout players for the Boston Celtics are Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum and Brown are the leading scorers for the Boston Celtics. Tatum is averaging a career-high 25.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. The same goes for Brown, who is averaging 24.5 points and 3.4 assists.
Tatum put on a show in the second round of the 2018 playoffs. In four of the five games, he was the highest scorer for the Celtics. Both Jaylen and Tatum were exceptional in the Conference Finals that season, but it was not enough to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is worth noting that the 2017-18 season was Tatum's rookie year.
The duo have made the Eastern Conference Finals thrice with the Boston Celtics. Such experience is worth taking into consideration when it comes to the postseason. The team also has other players that have plenty of playoff experience.
One notable mention is the Celtics' starting point guard, Kemba Walker. Strangely, his exit from the NBA playoffs has always come at the hands of the Miami Heat.
#3 - Recent resurgence
The Boston Celtics have put together a winning run in their last ten games (7-3). The team is finally playing up to its potential and is looking confident on the court, something they have lacked all season long.
On paper, the Boston Celtics have been an average team this season, ranking 12th in offensive rating and 13th in defensive rating. Even so, it shows that the Celtics play a balanced game. With this sort of balance on both ends of the court, a win in a seven-game series against the best in the east is not a preposterous prospect.
If the Boston Celtics can replicate their recent performances in the remaining 12 games of the regular season, they could easily secure fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Five of the twelve games are against bottom teams in the Eastern and Western Conference.
The Boston Celtics have not looked like a team with enough pedigree to contest for the NBA championship this season. However, they look the most likely to cause an upset in the playoffs. Their regular-season run is far from exemplary, but they are picking up steam at the right time.