It was an eventful year for the Boston Celtics.
They exceeded expectations, with young players making huge improvements to their game, despite a plethora of injuries. Players left the roster, others joined it, and the future direction of the team became clear.
So as 2020 comes to an end, we look back on a few of the storylines that defined the Celtics’ year:
The year this became Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s Team
Going into last season, a lot of the focus was on how Kemba Walker was coming in to lead the team and replace Kyrie Irving. But what ended up happening through the course of the campaign, especially in 2020, was Tatum’s and Brown’s rises.
Tatum made his first All-Star team in January. Brown probably should have, too. But regardless, in the early months of the new year and in the NBA bubble, the two youngsters became stars as they both made huge jumps in their game while complementing, not overshadowing, one another on the court.
The team lived up to its “Hospital Celtics” nickname this year
One of the biggest storylines of 2020 ultimately was one of the Celtics downfalls. This team almost never was completely healthy to the point where it was newsworthy if no one was listed on the injury report.
The Celtics’ true starters of last season were Walker, Tatum, Brown, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis, but of Boston’s 6,892 possessions last season, that lineup had just 543. That lineup was certainly its best, though, with a plus/minus of +11.9.
The Celtics still earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed and made a deep run in the playoffs, but imagine how far they could have gone if Hayward didn’t sprain his ankle in the playoffs and if Walker was 100 percent healthy?
No locker room fight will ruin Boston’s chemistry
While down in the bubble, the Celtics had no choice but to spend a lot of time together as a team. From golfing with each other to teaching teammates how to swim, they really acted like a group of good friends at summer camp. But sometimes friends fight.
Frustration on the court against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals boiled over into the locker room after a Game 2 loss, as yelling reportedly came from the locker room. Marcus Smart was heated and wanted to hold his team accountable for a bad performance. Brown apparently got in his face to try and calm him down. Grant Williams tried to give his two cents but his teammates quickly put the rookie in his place.
But even right after the blowup, the Celtics stuck together in their postgame press conferences. And ultimately, it seemed to bring them all closer.
Jayson Tatum signs long-term contract
On Sept. 16, 2020, just before the Celtics set off on their series with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, all the work Tatum put in over the course of the year was validated.
By making the All-NBA Third Team, he became the youngest player in franchise history to receive the honor. It also set him up to be eligible for a supermax contract extension, and Boston signed him on a five-year deal worth up to $195.6 million in late November.
If not the case for anyone else, this certainly was Tatum’s year, as he rose to borderline NBA superstardom and secured his bag.
And for Celtics fans who had a tough go around the sun, the idea of having the 22-year-old around for a long time (or the rest of his career, as Tatum’s mom insinuated) should be a very bright spot.
Gordon Hayward shocked the NBA world and dipped
In the months leading up to the offseason it was almost written off as a guarantee that Hayward would opt in to his player option with Boston. After all, who else was going to pay someone with that injury history that much money? And during a pandemic?
Oh, apparently the Charlotte Hornets.
Getting into the later months of 2020, it became clear that Hayward was unsatisfied with the role he fell into after missing so much time due to injury, as he became the fourth-best player on a playoff team. He wanted to be the guy, and he will be in Charlotte to the tune of $120 million over the next four years.
Boston’s fan base gets a lot more boujee
The Celtics had to bring in a center this season, a need made even more apparent with the departure of Enes Kanter. And Danny Ainge certainly delivered, signing Tristan Thompson in free agency. And with that, Boston earned the fandom of the United States’ most famous family.
In case you live under a rock, Thompson is Khloe Kardashian’s baby daddy. Many members of the Kardashian family congratulated the center after the signing and expressed their support for the Celtics, and we’re likely to be seeing them around TD Garden when it’s safe.
We wonder how many new fans were made overnight thanks to this free agent acquisition.