Celtics fanatic Nathan Mundy, or ‘The Boston Brit’ as he is known on Twitter, assesses the 2021-22 season for his team, and then casts an eye ahead to the 2022-23 campaign for Boston.
Where my love for the NBA and the Celtics came from…
Most people across Celtics social media will know me as ‘The Boston Brit’ but my name is Nathan Mundy. Basketball has been a big part of my life since 2005 and I’ve supported the Boston Celtics ever since.
My love for the Celtics started back in secondary school through a close friend. After returning from a road trip of America, he gifted me a Celtics hat and proceeded to show me a very pixelated video from a Boston Celtics game he’d been to while we sat in a Geography lesson! It was love at first sight. While my friend’s following of the game slowed, mine only grew.
I have been through the good, the bad and the ugly as a Celtics fan. The highlight being Championship number 17 in 2007-08. Witnessing greatness before my eyes felt very special.
You can find me on Instagram & Twitter: @TheBostonBrit
And on the podcast: That UK Celtics Podcast & The Landing Spot Podcast.
My favourite players
Throughout the years the Celtics have had an abundance of talent step onto the TD Garden court. With such a rich pool of players from multiple eras, selecting a favourite is almost impossible.
Firstly, the late, great Bill Russell. He was the ultimate champion on and off the court with his dedication to being a prominent advocate for justice and equality, paving the way for the players who have entered the league after his retirement.
Next, Larry Bird. His CV speaks for itself. Bird personified hustle and with his determination to win and ability to control both sides of the floor, he is undeniably an all-time NBA great.
The early 2000s gave us Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Both KG and the Truth are the Celtics greats I watched growing up. Both had unique skillsets which complimented each other beautifully to bring banner 17 for the franchise in 2007-08. KG with his famous trash talk, hustle and fiery competitiveness saw him cement his reputation as one of the best power forwards to ever grace the NBA. Pierce, with his leadership, outstanding fundamentals and textbook footwork was a true Celtics legend.
In the most recent era, Marcus Smart has found his way into Celtics fans’ hearts with his defensive tenacity. The epitome of hustle and heart, Smart is a one-of-a-kind player – the type teams hate to play against but would love to have on their roster.
Grade for last season: A-
The 2021-22 season provided Celtics fans with the biggest rollercoaster ride of any season in Celtics’ recent history. The season started with Brad Stevens now working as GM and a new head coach in Ime Udoka, and an inconsistent set of lacklustre performances. Fans questioned whether this Celtics team were going to even make the playoffs, let alone an NBA Finals. Udoka was outspoken throughout the season criticising the inconsistency and the team lacking mental strength.
The quest for an 18th Championship looked to be improbable before the turn of the year. Defeat to the Knicks, in which the C’s blew a 25-point lead was just one result in a string of poor performances which left fans completely demoralised.
But January 31st arrived. Jaylen Brown tweeted what is now an iconic message to Celtics fans: “The energy is about to shift.” He was right. A statement win against the Miami Heat after Brown’s prophetic tweet saw the Celtics go on a seven-game winning streak. They would dominate opponents from there on and end up second in the Eastern conference by the close of the regular season.
With one of the season turnarounds for the ages, it’s difficult to not grade the 21-22 season anything lower than an A-. The Celtics navigated a difficult route the NBA Finals too – sweeping the Brooklyn Nets 4-0, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 and the Miami Heat 4-3. Although the season ended in disappointment the Celtics captured the fanbase’s hearts again, which has not happened to this extent since the 2007-08 season.
Assessing the offseason for the Celtics
The 2021-22 season, although providing a positive perspective on the team’s future, also showed what the Celtics had been lacking. The bench depth and scoring was the key area that needed addressing.
The Celtic’s bench came in at 26th in the league for points and 17th for field goal percentage. The Finals exposed that lack of depth, with the bench scoring only 124 of the 605 total points. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 270 of those 605 points, for perspective. This prompted the front office to look at a solution to relieve the scoring pressure on Tatum and Brown. The addition of Danilo Gallinari from the Atlanta Hawks was designed to help with bench scoring, but his torn MCL – picked up in a FIBA World Cup qualifier playing with Italy – is a setback.
Providing he gets healthy in time for the postseason though, the 13-year veteran brings not only size to the Celtics frontcourt at 6’10”, but also a solid level of shooting ability. Over his career, Gallinari has averaged 15.6 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and is fifth on the list for 3-pointers scored by a player 6’10” or taller. Pending his recovery, this feels like a strong piece of business from Brad Stevens.
In terms of trades, moving for Malcom Brogdon was clearly one the Celtics needed going into next season – but a surprising one nonetheless. The Celtics struck a deal which sent a 2023 first-round pick, Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts and Juwan Morgan to the Indiana Pacers. If Brogdon can stay healthy this trade is the best piece of business in the NBA this offseason without question and will give the C’s a real weapon off the bench.
The 2021-22 line-up of Tatum, Brown, Smart, Al Horford and Robert Williams was arguably the best starting line-up in the NBA and with all returning next season, alongside the additions of Brogdon and Gallinari on the bench, it will rival most NBA rosters next season.
Points of note from the 2022 NBA Draft
The 2022 NBA Draft wasn’t going to be one the Celtics were able to get something out of. With only the 53rd pick in the draft it wasn’t a year for excitement. The selection of guard JD Davidson from Alabama seemingly looked an interesting choice, that due to the guard-heavy roster the Celtics already have, leaving Davidson fifth in the rotation if he sees any minutes.
Most important players for the 2022-23 season
Boston will need to continue to develop the roster’s young group of players, providing them consistent minutes to truly give Boston an all-round roster who will contribute to the team’s goal of banner 18.
Tatum and Brown are set to be the cornerstones once again as they begin to enter their prime years. Both have expressed a wish to be in Boston for the long run, despite some speculation over Brown, which will not only give Ime Udoka a chance to mould them but also gives the franchise the stability it has desperately needed in recent years.
How Malcom Brogdon fits with the roster will impact the Celtics hugely if he can stay healthy – hopefully in a positive way. Brogdon will likely come off the bench as sixth man and having averaged 19.1 points and 5.9 assists last season, he will arguably be the best sixth man in the NBA next season.
The Celtics’ aims for next season
NBA Finals should be the expectation for the Celtics. The philosophy of the Celtics has always been to win a championship. The pressure being in a city whose teams are expected to win can be crippling for some players but with a hungry young roster and the additions of Brogdon and Gallinari the Celtics are well equipped to chase the title.
Three predictions for the season ahead…
- Celtics take home Banner 18, as NBA champions
- Jayson Tatum wins Finals MVP
- Robert Williams will go one better from the 2021-22 season and make the NBA All-Defensive First Team
Why should people watch the Celtics?
If you’re new to the NBA or someone who hasn’t yet selected a franchise to follow, the Boston Celtics will be the team to put top of your list. The explosiveness of Robert Williams, the finesse of Jaylen Brown, the hustle and heart of Marcus Smart and the outrageous talent of Jayson Tatum – all make it well worth tuning into the Celtic’s 2022-23 season. With a rich history of winning and a highly-competitive fanbase, you need not look any further than the Boston Celtics.
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