The NBA’s All-Star break is nearly here, and it’s become abundantly clear that the Boston Celtics are this season’s biggest disappointment to this point.
After gelling in the bubble during the 2019-20 season’s restart and making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, expectations were fairly high for the Cs heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
Personally, I didn’t expect the team to win an NBA Title, nor did I think they’d be representing the Eastern Conference in the big game, either. That said, I, alongside most other Celtics fans, did at least believe this team would be in contention for one of the top spots in the East and would be in a good spot right now even though they were starting the season without Kemba Walker manning the point guard position.
What’s happened, however, has fallen far from those expectations.
The Boston Celtics are the league’s biggest disappointment thus far
Right now, Boston sits at 15-15 overall, and their most recent loss on Sunday is arguably their most embarrassing of the season.
The Celtics collapsed in the second half once again, but this time it reached historic proportions. The New Orleans Pelicans erased a 24-point third-quarter lead to force overtime and eventually defeat the shamrocks by a score of 120-115.
That comeback marked the largest deficit the Pelicans have ever overcome in franchise history.
Talk about a low point in a season that’s had more downs than ups so far.
Boston’s epic meltdown against NOLA is just the latest in a string of disappointments this season.
For a while, C’s fans were willing to brush past some head-scratching outcomes early in the season, citing injuries and a wonky offseason as part of the reason for the early speedbumps.
That said, as the season has progressed, those issues haven’t been fixed. Because of that, it’s become very apparent that this Boston Celtics team is the most disappointing team in the NBA right now.
Yes, there are excuses you can make for this team’s discouraging mark through 30 games.
They have dealt with a myriad of injuries and COVID issues all season, rarely playing at full strength so far. That’s caused younger players to have to play bigger roles than expected for large parts of the season, and it’s really thrown a wrench into the team’s overall chemistry.
That doesn’t account for all of Boston’s problems, however; they have many more deficiencies that can’t be explained away by injuries and health issues.
Under Brad Stevens, the Cs have been stellar on defense, finishing in the top 10 in the league in defensive field goal percentage each of the last five seasons.
While the team is just outside the top five in points per game allowed currently, they rank just 17th in defensive field goal percentage, allowing teams to make 46.7 percent of their shots from the floor this season, including a whopping 54 percent from inside the three-point line.
Not only that, but Stevens’ team has struggled with efficiency and consistency on offense this season, too. Boston ranks 22nd in the NBA in points per game and rank 17th in team field goal percentage.
Their Effective Field Goal Percentage ranks just 19th in the league.
Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been All-Star worthy this season and are likely the best wing duo in the league, but the supporting cast around them has been inconsistent at best and downright paltry at worst.
Boston’s dynamic duo has scored 41.1 percent of the team’s points this year, and while Kemba Walker is averaging 17 points per game right now, he’s having to jack up a ton of shots to get that total, considering he’s making just 37.1 percent of his field goals and only 34.8 percent of his threes.
Walker, surprisingly, is shooting below 40 percent on his two-point field goal attempts. He’s not the only Celtic to have that putrid mark this season either, as fellow veteran point guard Jeff Teague is making just 28.3 percent of his two-pointers.
Those two numbers are just one sign of a deeper, more glaring offensive problem for this year’s squad.
Speaking of Walker, the Boston Celtics have actually been worse since he was reinserted into the lineup after recovering from his offseason procedure.
The 30-year-old was looking pretty solid when he first returned, but he’s been very rocky since his first week or so back in action, and that’s reflected in their record.
Yes, this team has more issues than Walker’s up-and-down play, but it’s still pretty telling when a team has gone just 6-9 in games you’ve played since returning to the starting lineup after they started the season 8-3 without you in the rotation.
Things can still improve for Boston.
Just because the team sits at .500 right now doesn’t mean they can’t climb themselves out of this hole. Boston has some promising young players and appear poised to make a couple of moves before the trade deadline, which is cause for some optimism.
However, with Marcus Smart reportedly expected to be out until after the All-Star break and with little in the way of consistent backcourt depth to alleviate that pressure, it still looks like it will be all on Tatum and Brown to carry the Cs to the halfway point of the season.
Things are looking fairly grim for Beantown right now, and while it’s still too early to give up hope entirely, there’s no denying that this team is far from where fans expected them to be in late February.
The Boston Celtics has undoubtedly been a big letdown, and they’re the biggest disappointment in the entire league as things currently stand.