o/u 53.5 – UNDER
This core has been together five seasons. Despite the noise around the organization and questions about coaching, those are not the Boston Celtics’ biggest concerns entering the 2022-2023 season.
Rob Williams’ knee surgery leaves him three months away from basketball activities as of the start of the 2022-23 season. Best case scenario for the Celtics’ defensive anchor, he begins his road back to playing around the new year. No specific timetable has been given, all Boston can hope for is getting Williams back in time for him to get his feet wet before a hopeful playoff run.
Even without Williams, this team is molded to win a lot of regular season games. They have two top 25 players in Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart. The addition of Malcom Brogdon adds a helpful dynamic to the group at the point guard position – likely boosting the C’s late game success.
In the ‘21-’22 regular season, the Celtics were 13-22 in single digit games which was the second worst win % in the league. The Brogdon addition follows suit of last season’s Derrick White acquisition which helps bolster the bench, if he is available.
In the five seasons since he won the Rookie of the Year in 2017, Brogdon has averaged 52 games a season. There isn’t much reason to worry about Brogdon’s ability to have enough time on the court to mesh with this group – the transition should be pretty natural. The concern is whether he will be available when they need him down the stretch.
Along the same line of concern: Al Horford. Al was a cornerstone for the Celtics last season in their run to the Finals, specifically on the defensive end. Horford, coming off a season in ‘20-21 in Oklahoma City where he only appeared in 28 games, looked rejuvenated in his return season to Boston. How will Horford’s conditioning and health hold up as the season progresses while the teams leans on him heavily in Williams’ indefinite absence?
In spite of losing Ime Udoka, Danillo Gallinari, and Robert Williams in the matter of a week, this team will have a playoff spot and avoid any play-in tournament worries. The Celtics main concern is being healthy at the right time opposed to rattling off regular season wins and competing for a top seed.
Tatum proved himself last season as a 1st team All NBA player capable of putting the team on his back. This group has reason to trust each other and be confident if they are intact in March, they are one of the safest bets to win multiple playoff rounds in a highly competitive Eastern Conference. This self-actualization by the team should be the realization they have no need to push for their over on wins. What it would take for them to hit the over, may cost them a title shot.