The NBA’s return is less than a month away, and free agency certainly has shaken some things up across the league.
But for the Boston Celtics, the core that helped them on a deep Eastern Conference Finals run in 2019-20 has remained mostly in tact, save for the departure of Gordon Hayward in free agency and a couple of additions for depth.
But beyond that, the Celtics are running it back again hoping key players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart can make it even further this year.
But based on ESPN’s projected standings, which were made using their Real Plus-Minus stat, Boston’s offseason moves (or lack thereof, perhaps) weren’t enough to propel it higher than the No. 3 seed it earned last season.
ESPN has the Celtics finishing the regular season in fifth place, behind Eastern Conference teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.
The Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks round out the final three playoff seeds of the projection.
Something tells us Boston, fueled by its young and emerging superstars, will exceed those expectations.