The 2015-2016 Boston Celtics are a team that can make a serious run in the 2016 playoffs. With the emergence of Marcus Smart as a key contributor in the Celtics gameplan, and the return of some key players who sat because of injury, the Boston Celtics playoff chances are looking very promising. According to BPI Playoff Odds, the Boston Celtics playoff chances are greater than 99%. With a 39-27 record, and a 2nd place spot in the NBA’s Atlantic Division, Head Coach Brad Stevens and his Boston Celtics chances are looking promising for a high seed in the playoffs.
With 106.1 points per game, and a pace of 98.6, the Celtics are among the top three in the NBA in those categories. The Boston Celtics are predicted to finish 42-25, in 6th place in the NBA. All Star point guard Isaiah Thomas is putting up serious numbers, shooting 42.5 % from the beyond the arc, and 88.5 % from the free throw line. Isaiah Thomas finished with 21 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds in the loss to the Pacers Tuesday night. Nearing 1,500 points as a Celtic, Thomas will be a big part of the Celtics playoff run in the 2016 battle for the NBA Championship.
Small forward, Jae Crowder, has been key this season for the Celtics. Head Coach Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics have used Crowder as a key defender matching up against the best player on the opposing team. Crowder sacrifices his body for the team and works hard every time he steps out onto the floor. With the ability to shoot, nailing 45 % from beyond the arc, Crowder is a serious threat for any opposing team. Crowder’s absence in Boston’s tuesday night game due to a serious ankle injury left a big hole in their gameplan in stopping Pacers star, Paul George. With the return of Jae Crowder by the end of Boston’s 2015-2016 season, the Celtics are looking to make a serious run for the title.
Guards Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart are two of the biggest blocks in the Celtics infrastructure. Bradley and Smart run the floor, along with starting point guard Isaiah Thomas, to create open threes for shooters and create layup chances for big men Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk. With Smart coming off the bench, the Celtics can use him late in the game and can use him to shut down the opposing team’s best player. Smart is a defensive juggernaut and is a pain for any star in the NBA. Head Coach Brad Stevens has matched him up with Thunder Star Russell Westbrook, and Heat forward Dwayne Wade. Cavaliers star Lebron James finished with just 15 points when Smart was locked up on him. While Smart is not much of a scorer, Bradley makes up for that. Shooting 45 % from the three, and 85 % from inside the arc, Bradley is a dual threat player. Stevens also uses Bradley as a defensive key, sometimes matching him up with some of the best players in the NBA. With these two key players, along with high scoring point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics have a backcourt that can not be matched by many other teams in the NBA.
Boston’s top bench unit is one of the best in the NBA. The combination of Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, Jonas Jerebko, Kelly Olynyk, and Amir Johnson combine for 125 minutes with a net rating of 19.2 which is the 9th best in the NBA. Head Coach Brad Stevens has not named who will replace starter Jae Crowder but he definitely has a lot of options to choose from. Whether Stevens chooses Smart to lean towards a shorter lineup that runs the floor more, or he chooses Olynyk so that the Celtics can run a bigger lineup against the opponent, Stevens will have options to pick from. Crowder will be gone for nearly a month, with Stevens recently announcing 3-4 weeks time to heal the beast’s ankle injury.
One part of the Boston Celtics that is not present in many other teams is the drive to be better. The Boston Celtics recently had one of their longest practices at their facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. After their Sunday practice, at least eight players stayed to get up shots. Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “One of my former bosses used to say the sign of a team that’s really invested is a team that stays to shoot afterwards, and I believe that. When you stay and shoot and put your work in that’s a really good thing. When you’re invested in that, and not just going through the motions, that’s a very good sign.” The Celtics are invested in being better and being a team. You do not see many other teams with as much drive as the Boston Celtics. Coach Brad Stevens said, “The guys fly around, there’s a different type of feeling at our practices than anywhere else that i’ve been. I love it.”
With this is mind, the Boston Celtics can make a serious run at the 2015-2016 NBA title. Brad Stevens and his team have a lot ahead of them. Once the injured players return, and the Celtics get back into their groove, the run for the NBA championship will be fully in season.