The Boston Celtics have been stuck in neutral for the past two years, so what do they have to do to take the next step and become a contender in the Eastern Conference?
The Boston Celtics finished this season with a record of 48-34, which was the first winning record for coach Brad Stevens and Co. The record was far better than their record from the 2014-15 season (40-42), but both teams had the same result by exiting in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics were not expected to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-15 playoffs, but Boston was expected to get out of the first round in this year’s playoffs.
The Celtics were not at full strength with an ailing Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder and the team was without Avery Bradley for most of the series against the Atlanta Hawks. It was not a great matchup for the Celtics, but Boston showed that it is still not a top-tier team in the Eastern Conference after their loss to the Hawks.
The Celtics had one of the best defenses in the league this past season (fourth in overall defensive rating at 103.6), but there offensive consistency is what they need to improve on down the road. They were second-to-last in three-point percentage in the playoffs this year (27.5 percent) and on the season they were 28th in the NBA in three-point percentage this season (33.5 percent).
Boston was also 24th in the NBA in overall field goal percentage (43.9 percent), which shows that this team needs to be more efficient on the offensive end.
Stevens has gotten a lot out of every player on Boston’s roster, but now it is time to add better shooters to the squad with playoff experience because the team still lacks playoffs experience.
Boston has a big offseason ahead because the team has a lot more pressure on them to succeed for the upcoming season. General manager Danny Ainge hasn’t been afraid to make big moves in the past, and the Celtics have plenty of draft picks and assets that could be up for grabs. The Celtics have a lottery pick that could be a top-three pick and Boston might trade that pick depending on where it ends up.
The Celtics also have eight picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, and do not have enough room on their roster if they actually kept all them.
Watch for the Celtics to be in the middle of many trade rumors this offseason. They have been mentioned in connection with Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Jimmy Butler. Each one of those players would be ideal for the Celtics, but it is hard to believe that the Celtics could land these players without giving up some of their foundational players. The Celtics primarily need to add shooting and scoring, that should be their main focus this offseason.
The Boston Celtics have become an above-average NBA team, but if they want to make the next step they need to add scoring and shooting as soon as possible. The Celtics’ future is still bright, but they need to add some pieces that will take their offensive game to the next level so they can compete with some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.