After getting eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last season, the Boston Celtics are advancing to the second round of the postseason. They swept the Brooklyn Nets, making them the only team in the league to sweep their first-round opponent this season.
The sweep came just one year after the Celtics lost in the first round to the Nets in five games. Boston’s roster has evolved since then, however. Last year, the Celtics started six different players throughout the course of their five-game series against the Nets. Four of those six players are no longer with the team – Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Tristan Thompson, and Romeo Langford.
But just one year later, the Celtics look completely different. Brad Stevens moved to the front office, they have a new head coach in Ime Udoka, Stevens brought new faces back to the organization in Al Horford and Daniel Theis, and Udoka’s defensive scheme has helped the Celtics become a defensive powerhouse.
However, although the Celtics roster may look different, they are running into the same patterns of the past. They say history never repeats itself, but for Boston, it may be doing just that. As they continue on their playoff journey, things could begin to look very familiar very soon.
Celtics Playoff Path Looks Familiar
As pointed out by Sean Grande, the radio voice of the Celtics, Boston’s potential playoff past could see them face off against all the teams that have taken them down in the postseason over the past few years.
Obviously, this started with the Nets, who the Celtics just took down in four games. As mentioned, Brooklyn beat the Celtics last year in the 2021 playoffs. But now, if they manage to beat the Chicago Bulls, the Milwaukee Bucks will be Boston’s second-round playoff opponent. The Bucks beat the Celtics in the second round of the 2019 playoffs.
Then, let’s say the Celtics get past the Bucks. They will face the winner of the other side of the Eastern-Conference playoff bracket. That will be one of three teams – the Miami Heat, the Philadelphia 76ers, or the Toronto Raptors. Funnily enough, those are the exact three teams Boston had to face in the 2020 playoffs.
If the Heat manage to reach the Conference Finals (and Boston does as well), the Celtics will have had to go through all three of the teams that have knocked them out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
Celtics Rosters in Those Series
As stated, the Celtics team that lost to the Nets last year looked a lot different than the team they have right now. But what about the rosters that lost to the Bucks and Heat? How do those two teams compare to the one Boston has put together this season?
Back in 2019, Kyrie Irving was still on the team. That should give some indication as to how much Boston’s roster has changed. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Horford were all on that squad as well. Daniel Theis and Robert Williams were on the roster, but neither played a large role in the postseason.
As for the 2020 playoffs, that team had even more similarities. Tatum, Brown, Smart, Theis, and Williams were all there, and so was Grant Williams. The major absence from that team in comparison to this year’s squad is Horford.
This year, the Celtics have all of those guys back, plus a few key additions. Payton Pritchard will be playing in his first-ever second-round playoff series, as will Derrick White. With Boston’s new-and-improved roster, will they be able to conquer their old foes?