Despite losing the NBA championship to the Golden State Warriors in six games, the Boston Celtics’ prospects seem bright at first glance.
After losing three times in the Eastern Conference Finals in four years, they had finally made it to the NBA Finals, and with a mostly young team there should be room for improvement.
However, what has room for improvement is that it usually means a team has flaws that prevent them from reaching the mountain top.
In the Celtics’ case, those shortcomings stand a good chance of preventing them from returning to the Championship series at all next season.
Now, if you had to bet on Boston or the field to reach the 2023 NBA Finals, it would be wise to bet on the field.
The Celtics need more offense
In Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have two of the brightest young stars in pro basketball, and both can get even better in the years to come before they even start hitting their primes.
Brown played fairly well against Stephen Curry and company, averaging 23.5 points per game.
Tatum, on the other hand, was pretty awful.
Jayson Tatum is the first player in NBA history to have 100 turnovers in a single postseason. pic.twitter.com/Jd7PKvYHCJ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2022
He shot just 36.7 percent in the final and under 43 percent in five of the six competitions, proving he’s not quite a superstar just yet.
Tatum has proven he has the ability to go out and save his team any night, but he still has an inability to string together back-to-back great performances, particularly when it comes to his shooting efficiency.
The Warriors largely exposed the Celtics as a two-horse gang on offense.
Guard Marcus Smart has played well, but overall he’s an inefficient player who doesn’t pose a major, consistent scoring threat, and Boston’s bench looked pitifully weak.
Defense is still key to winning championships, despite the misconception that nobody plays defense in today’s NBA, but offense is just as important, and a team these days can’t win a world championship without being great on both sides.
The Celtics need more role players to get involved offensively, and a legitimate third goalscorer would also greatly improve their chances of winning their 18th NBA title.
The biggest problem next year may not be themselves
Even if Boston goes out and makes the improvements it needs to get over the hump, it might still not be good enough.
That’s because their biggest threat to returning to the Finals comes from the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks won it all last year, and this year many are feeling that if Khris Middleton hadn’t injured his knee in the opening round of the playoffs, Giannis Antetokounmpo and company would have beaten the Celtics in the second round.
The Boston Celtics woke up feeling dangerous 🥵🥵🥵
– Series victory against a cheating Nets team with model Ben Simmons 🎪🎪🎪
– Beat the Bucks without Khris Middleton?? 🤪🤪🤪🤪
– Loss to Chef Ayesha Curry on the 6th? 😂😂😂
Looks like a cheating final run
— do the brewers 2 need to stop acting like circus clowns (@Wyomingmlbnews) June 17, 2022
The Bucks simply have a more well-rounded team as they have three legitimate goalscorers, and Antetokounmpo is clearly not only better than Tatum, he’s arguably the best player in the world.
One would expect Milwaukee to come into next season hungry after losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Celtics, and that could be the head start it needs to return to glory.