After three games, the Boston Celtics are 2-1, the same record to start last season as well. This year is a little different; I feel much more confident in this 2-1 team compared to the previous year.
It’s a tiny sample size, and that’s why I’m not trying to get my hopes up, but this Celtics’ team looks legit. This team looks like they can be pretty good once they start to hit their shots at a high rate and tighten some things up.
The biggest issue with the team at the moment is their ability to hit shots. They couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean if they tried against Philadelphia. Kemba Walker shot 4-18 in his Celtics’ debut, and Jayson Tatum shot 8-22. In fact, Tatum has shooting lines of 8-22, 8-22 (again), and 5-17 in three games this year.
Jayson is averaging a little over 20 shot attempts per game, which is seven more than he attempted last year. He’s leading the team in shots per game but is only hitting 34% of them. Although he is shooting 45% from three, he’s still adjusting to being the focal point of this offense. He’s shown improvement on defense, as well.
Tatum has 28 rebounds, 9 steals and is a team leading plus 25 over the first 3 games
He also is shooting over 7 threes a game at a 45 percent clip
I don’t wanna hear it twitter
— Tribune of the Plebs (@Handsome_Jake_) October 27, 2019
Although Kemba Walker is the guy who should be scoring the most points every night for Boston, this offense has been running through Jayson Tatum. This is slowly becoming his team, and we are witnessing it happen before our very eyes. He has the green light to keep shooting, and his teammates, especially Kemba, are encouraging him to keep firing.
“I don’t care how many shots you take.” –Kemba Walker to Jayson Tatum / something Kyrie Irving has never said in his lifepic.twitter.com/d3sirjI5SF
— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) October 24, 2019
Speaking of Kemba, he’s had a slow start to the year shooting-wise. He’s only shooting 40% from the field through three games but had a huge game against New York. He still has the jitters of playing in a new environment. He’s been playing for Charlotte his entire career, so he’s still getting used to playing for a winning organization and being surrounded by teammates that will help him succeed. He doesn’t need to be shooting a million shots a game and is learning to take a step back and letting his teammates do their thing.
Jaylen Brown has looked like the best player on the team this year. No, seriously, he’s looked pretty damn good this year. The $115M man dollar is averaging a bit over 17 points a game and is averaging close to seven rebounds. He’s shooting a poor 29% from three but hitting his shots at a 50% rate.
Jaylen finished with only eight points against Philly, but that’s because he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Since then, he’s posted 25 and 19 point games against Toronto and New York. He’s had a +22 plus/minus in those games combined and is second on the team in true shooting percentage (57%). He’s proving that he’s worth the money and can handle a significant role on this team.
Gordon Hayward is looking like his old self, and I’m so so so confident in saying that. He’s averaging over 16 points and six rebounds a game and just looks much more confident out on the court than he did last year. He’s driving to the basket with much more confidence and is getting to the free-throw line at a higher rate. He won’t put up the stats he did when he was an All Star in Utah, but he’ll put up solid numbers and be one of the biggest reasons why this team wins games.
Gordon Hayward had 18 drives last night.
Last year he averaged only 5.7 drives per game. For comparison, James Harden averaged NBA-high 19.6 dpg.
— Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) October 24, 2019
The defense was going to be one of the biggest question marks for the team this year, but so far, they’ve looked like they can hold their own on that side of the court. They rank third in the league in steals and blocks per game and force a league-high 22 turnovers per game.
We’ve seen improvements from Tatum and Brown on defense, and Enes Kanter even held his own against Joel Embiid (8 points on 3-7 shooting) on opening night. This team will definitely be more known for their offense, but their defense shouldn’t be slept on.
Jaylen Brown had a +37 net rating
Jayson Tatum had a +24 net rating
Their defense has been so good
— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) October 27, 2019
At the end of the day, we’re only three games into the season, and there’s no reason to get hyped up about such a small sample size. But at the same time, it’s fine to be confident in this team moving forward based on what we have seen.
The Celtics certainly have some things to work on, but nothing major. Brad Stevens needs to tighten the lineup and avoid playing 12 players a night. He needs to find 9-10 players he can consistently play each game. The team needs to work on hitting their shots and WORK ON THEIR FREE THROWS!! If we ever lose by like 4-5 points in a game where we missed 10 free throws, I will be livid. Work on the fundamentals, guys.
The Celtics will have a tough matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Wednesday, but then have a nice nine-game stretch against the Knicks, Cavs, Hornets, Spurs, Mavs, Wizards, Warriors, Kings, and Suns. I think this team can put together a nice win streak here and build that chemistry up during the process.
After a small sample size, I’m pretty excited for what the rest of the season has in store for us. It’ll be fun to watch this team get better along the way and see just how far they can go. LFG Celtics!!
Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images