Heading into the 2021-22 NBA season, there was already a decent amount of pressure on the Celtics to show all of us that the season from hell in 2020 was the exception and not the rule. They underachieved in almost every area, both due to their own play and injury/covid issues. This offseason was about smashing that reset button from both a roster and vibes perspective. They didn't rebuild, they reloaded. While this was happening, teams around them in the East have been experiencing nothing but drama and turmoil. The Sixers, the perennial favorite for talking heads despite never getting past the 2nd round, are dealing with a disaster of a Ben Simmons situation. The Nets, an actual legit title contender, just announced that they've essentially banned Kyrie Irving from the team until he gets vaccinated. Who knows how either of those situations ultimately play out, but as all the chaos went on this morning all I could think about was one thing
We talk about "windows" all the time when it comes to a team's ability to compete. It's all dependent on where you are as a franchise. If you're rebuilding, nobody really worries about your "window". If you're someone like the Lakers, given the age of your roster your window to win is right now. When you look at the East, this is what you see. You have a Bucks team that looks like a group that will be a problem for quite a while. Both the age and talent of their roster suggest that's not changing anytime soon. The Nets, while loaded with elite talent, have a slightly shorter window. KD isn't getting any younger, and as of now both Harden and Kyrie do not have extensions. With the Sixers, they are essentially wasting Embiid's prime, and might end up trading a franchise player. The Heat are a team that has one young stud in Bam, but their core of Butler/Lowry isn't getting any younger either.
Teams like the Hawks and Knicks are loaded with young talent, but are still relatively unproven. We don't know how they respond to a season with real expectations yet. That comes this season. The Bulls have been KILLING it this preseason and have guys all in their primes. They won't be a pushover.
And then there's the Celtics. That unique combination of having young franchise cornerstone players who produce at an elite level, but also have shown to ability to have playoff success. They aren't without their own questions or flaws, but I can't get past the potential opportunity they have as we enter the season. If you're like me and already viewed this upcoming season as a pretty important year, things are only escalating now that there is so much drama and turmoil surrounding teams that many expect to be better than the Celts this season.
We've experienced first hand what fucked up chemistry and drama can do to a team. I think it's a little unrealistic to think that both the Nets and Sixers won't be impacted at all by their current distractions. That's why it's so important that the Celts understand what is in front of them. I really hope they realize this and fully buy in. The signs in the preseason have been encouraging, but those are fake games. With a deeper, more NBA caliber roster and two elite wing talents, with normal NBA season health there is no reason why this team shouldn't be able to take advantage and get back to competing. Their window is wide open.
Things can change so quickly in the NBA, you never know when opportunity is going to smack you in the face. The difference between the Celts and some of these other East teams that are looking to make a jump is that we've seen them do it. We know their high end talent can get the job done and get back to competing for a spot in the Finals. We've seen it. But we've also seen the other end of the spectrum. The one where they play like lifeless assholes and think they can simply walk on the floor and beat someone. That's not how the NBA works for 99% of the teams.
If they come out with the right mindset and play to the potential we know they're capable of because we've actually seen it before, the sky is the limit for this team. When you see other teams in your conference become vulnerable, the good teams take advantage. That is what I hope to see this season. Don't let what could be another prime opportunity slip, because with how fast things can change who the hell knows what the future might look like.