Assessing the state of the Boston Celtics entering the 2019 All-Star break

Boston Celtics (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

There were highs, there were lows, but after taking everything into account, what is the state of the Boston Celtics as we enter the All-Star break?

If any fan base needed the All-Star break, it’s the Boston Celtics faithful. They entered the season expecting their team to run away with the Eastern Conference, dominate their way through the playoffs and give the Golden State Warriors their biggest challenge since acquiring Kevin Durant.

It hasn’t exactly gone that way, which is surprising due to the immense talent this Celtics team has, but also not shocking at all given how nothing in the NBA goes the way we think it will. Celtics fans know all too well how a season can change in a matter of seconds (see Gordon Hayward injury).

More from Celtics News

But there are still 24 games, and the jury is still out on whether the Celtics have a realistic chance at winning a championship. Some are confident they can still get it done, some are not. Either way, we’ll try to determine which way we should lean using as much context as possible.


The main story around the Celtics this year has been their inconsistencies and the vitriol that has gone with it. You can blame the young players, Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward or even the media for painting an unfair picture, but there’s almost never one overwhelming cause for an issue seemingly this deep.

The Celtics are currently 37-21, sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a look at the different stretches they’ve gone through during the regular season so far.

10-10 start

This wasn’t fun, but with so much talent it was understandably going to take a while to get everyone settled into their roles. Especially considering this team making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without Hayward or Kyrie Irving. Concern wasn’t high, but the team needed to put together a strong showing after going .500 through a tough slate of opponents.

8-0, followed by a three-game losing streak

The Celtics responded well to their inauspicious start with an eight-game winning streak. Things were looking up until three straight losses that included a 120-107 home loss to the Bucks. Boston had a team meeting in the following days after this game, and things were looking up as they went 7-2 over their next nine games.

Ugly Florida trip, followed by a 10-1 stretch

Dropping back-to-back games to the Heat and Magic led to Irving calling out the young players on the team for their lack of experience playing on a championship team. He apologized for those comments shortly after, and the team won 10-of-11 with their lone loss coming against the Warriors in a game the Celtics could have easily won.

No-fun Celtics drop two LA losses, take out the Sixers w/o Kyrie

In another confusing stretch of basketball, the Celtics blew two second-half leads to the Lakers and Clippers. This led to Marcus Morris claiming the Celtics were a team consisting of a bunch of individuals and this season hasn’t been fun for him. Boston responded with a win over the Sixers in Philadelphia without Irving, and then closing out their schedule pre-All-Star break with a win over the Pistons.

What can we take from this? First is probably that the Celtics have more good stretches of basketball than bad, but also when they have those small moments of inconsistencies and lapses of effort, frustration boils over. Is it a sign of poor team chemistry, or a side-effect from the lofty expectations surrounding this group?

Either way, it’s something they’ll have to iron out before the playoffs. The Celtics are playing really good basketball more often than not, but the way the team acts you’d never know it.

Stats that matter

If you need further proof of the Celtics playing at a high level, look no further.

Ranks in OFF rtg/DEF rtg/NET rtg:

Celtics: 9th/5th/3rd

Bucks: 4th/1st/1st

Warriors: 1st/15th/2nd

Raptors: 5th/8th/6th

Nobody seems to worry about any of the four teams above besides the Celtics, but you can see they’re right there with them in the most important team metrics. If Boston still has room to improve, there aren’t many teams for them to pass in these rankings. Their record against the top teams in the East speaks for itself.

Celtics vs Raptors-Bucks-Sixers: 6-2

Rare circumstances

It’s hard not to notice how much is going against this Celtics team when they have arguably the most talented roster in the league top-to-bottom. First, the Celtics have had to deal with mixing in all of their talent, something that’s easier said than done. The saying goes, “there’s only one ball” and contenders don’t figure that out as quickly as the Warriors did when they added Durant.

On top of that challenge, you have to mix talent with two stars returning from injury, where Hayward is still recovering from probably the worst sports injury of all time. Then you think about the other side of the mix, with the young players who made it to the brink of the NBA Finals, and you can start to understand how much more difficult this situation is than normal.

Next. Celtics-Pistons 3 stars of the night. dark

Context is key. The Celtics are a contender because of their talent and two-way versatility, but what’s holding them back is the difficulty and rarity of the challenges before them as well as the lofty expectations surrounding the team. Frustration has mounted when this Celtics team doesn’t live up to our expectations of them, but that isn’t their fault. It’s ours. Instead of hoping they reach a level you made up in your head, realize what you have in front of you. A team with a ton of talent and proof of them playing at a high level.