Top 5 Takeaways from the 2021-22 Season

This previous yr has been a yr of change for the Boston Celtics. With that change got here success.

A brand new president of basketball operations, a brand new head coach, and several other new core gamers created a way of rejuvenation inside the franchise, which returned the workforce to its conventional place as a championship contender.

Today, we’re having a look again at what went proper for the C’s, after they rebounded from a 36-36 marketing campaign throughout the 2020-21 season and an 18-21 begin to the 2021-22 season, earlier than tearing their manner by the Eastern Conference and into the NBA Finals.

Here are our prime 5 takeaways from the 2021-22 marketing campaign:

Brown and Tatum Reaffirmed They Can Play Together

Amid the post-game chaos following their Game 7, Eastern Conference Finals-clinching win in Miami, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum sought one another out at mid-court and shared a protracted embrace to rejoice their first NBA Finals berth. Not a lot of what was stated throughout that intimate second might be made out on the nationwide broadcast, however as they shuffled round in small circles, arms draped round one another, one laughing exclamation from Tatum got here by clearly: “They stated we could not play collectively!”

During Boston’s early-season struggles, Brown and Tatum’s skill to coexist had been a sizzling matter amongst nationwide media speaking heads, however the star duo was fast to close them up after an epic mid-season turnaround and run to the Finals. While it is true that some star pairings do not work out, particularly once they play the same place, these two have labored tirelessly over the final 5 seasons to construct chemistry and profit from their complementary talent units.

Not solely did they show that they will play collectively, however they repeatedly emphasised how they need to play collectively for years to come back. They drew motivation from all of the destructive outdoors noise earlier in the season and used that to gasoline their Finals run. Now that they’ve established themselves as title contenders, they haven’t any plans of slowing down anytime quickly.

Smart is a (*5*) Primary Point Guard

Brown and Tatum weren’t the solely Celtics who had been set on proving doubters flawed. Marcus Smart had a chip on his shoulder all through the season, as he sought to point out the world that he could lead on Boston’s offense as its major level guard.

And present the world he did.

It took a few months for Smart and the C’s to get used to a brand new offensive system, however by the halfway level of the season, they had been rolling. After returning Jan. 23 from an harm absence, Smart helped lead the Celtics to an NBA-best 28-7 end whereas posting a league-high offensive score of 120.3.

Boston had the fourth-best help ratio in the league throughout that stretch, and Smart had quite a bit to do with that, posting a team- and career-best 5.9 assists per sport, together with 6.5 throughout the second half of the season.

It was extensively puzzled how transitioning from three consecutive All-Star level guards to the man who backed these gamers up may probably be an improve, but that former backup helped to hold the C’s farther than any of these stars had.

Smart did not simply present that he was able to being the major playmaker on a convention champion squad; he additionally proved {that a} participant in his place may win Defensive Player of the Year. He grew to become the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996, additional solidifying himself as a complete-package starter.

Rob Williams is a Top 5 Rim Protector

Marcus Smart doesn’t imagine that he shall be the solely member of this Celtics core to win Defensive Player of the Year. After successful the award, he predicted, “One day, Rob shall be on this place.”

It wasn’t too daring of a prediction, as Rob Williams virtually discovered himself in that very place this season after incomes his first All-Defensive choice as a member of the Second Team.

The fourth-year middle had a breakout marketing campaign, main the NBA in defensive score with a mark of 102.4 and ending third in blocked pictures with 134 regardless of lacking 1 / 4 of the common season. He was to the inside what Smart was to the perimeter: a terrifying defensive presence, one which opposing gamers tried their greatest to keep away from.

To say that he’s certainly one of the greatest rim protectors in the NBA is an understatement. His profession block share of 8.0 % ranks third all-time relationship again to 1973-74 when the league began recording shot-blocking knowledge.

If Williams might be wholesome sufficient to play a full season, he may very quickly discover himself in Smart’s footwear, holding that DPOY trophy.

Boston Nailed Its Head-Coaching Hire

Part of the motive why so many Celtics gamers had profession years was that they’d a head coach who is aware of precisely how you can carry the greatest out of his pupils.

Players akin to Brown, Tatum, Smart, and Williams wished a coach who would maintain them accountable, deal with them as equals, and drive them each single day, and that’s precisely what they bought out of rookie head coach Ime Udoka.

The Gregg Popovich disciple was examined early and infrequently throughout his first season, however he remained steadfast in his strategy till the Celtics absolutely grasped his system and turned their season round. He additionally pushed his stars, known as them out once they weren’t giving most effort, and thus toughened them into championship contenders.

Udoka was the solely first-year NBA coach to win 50 video games this season, the third rookie Celtics coach to achieve that mark in franchise historical past, and the first Celtics coach to win back-to-back Coach of the Month awards since Doc Rivers throughout the 2007-08 championship season.

Boston could not have employed a extra excellent match to steer their workforce, and Udoka’s impression ought to solely develop stronger in Year 2.

President Stevens Isn’t Afraid to Make Bold Moves

The Ime Udoka rent was simply certainly one of many roster strikes that Brad Stevens made throughout his first yr as President of Basketball Operations.

After Danny Ainge stepped down from his long-time function final spring, Stevens wasted no time stepping in and altering the roster to his liking. He made a blockbuster commerce proper off the bat, dealing Kemba Walker and a first-round draft choose to Oklahoma City to carry again Al Horford. He then traded for Josh Richardson, signed Dennis Schroder on a discount deal, and signed Rob Williams to an extension all earlier than the 2021-22 season started.

Stevens wasn’t afraid to combine issues up at the commerce deadline both, dealing for a flexible ball handler in Derrick White and reacquiring large man Daniel Theis – two strikes that helped bolster the Celtics right into a Finals workforce.

When Boston got here up two wins in need of the championship, Stevens acknowledged precisely what his workforce would wish so as to add in the offseason to assist get them over the hump: extra playmaking, and extra scoring off the bench.

So what did he do? He went out and addressed each wants by buying and selling for versatile combo guard Malcolm Brogdon and signing elite sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, all whereas not giving up a single piece from this previous season’s rotation.

If Stevens made one factor clear throughout his first yr in an government function, it is that he is not afraid to shake up the roster. Not solely is he prepared to make adjustments, however he additionally is aware of how you can make the proper adjustments, as confirmed by Boston’s deep playoff run.

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