The Celtics were a .500 team last season, but there are reasons to believe Boston will enjoy better results during the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
One of them is the addition of new head coach Ime Udoka. He was arguably the most qualified coaching candidate available this offseason and brings plenty of experience to Boston's staff.
Udoka got a good look at the Celtics last season as an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets. The C's played the Nets eight times, including a five-game first-round playoff series won by Brooklyn.
What did Udoka see from the outside that he wants the Celtics to improve on early in his tenure?
"Just in general, using the talent we have to play team basketball," Udoka said Tuesday on WEEI's "Gresh & Keefe" show. "I see a lot of guys that were kind of 'your turn, my turn' at times and I think the next step in their evolution is being playmakers in general. Marcus (Smart) hasn't always been the starting point guard or a guy who's had the ball in his hands a ton, and he's yearning for that. So we'll entrust in him to have more responsibility on his hands. Jayson and Jaylen, like I've mentioned quite a few times, trying to make those guys better playmakers. They're pretty natural scorers."
Udoka also wants to see the Celtics improve defensively. Boston ranked No. 13 in defensive rating last season. The C's ranked No. 4, No. 6 and No. 2 in defensive rating over the three previous campaigns.
"But in general, some of the additions we made to the roster, I think playing a more team-style of basketball but also getting back to, defensively, where they were two or three years ago," Udoka explained.
"Took a step back in some areas there, so we're digging on that and trying to put our stamp on the team defensively as well. When you look at those little things, there's a lot of ways we can improve and we're not far off."
If the Celtics play better team basketball and show some improvement defensively, they should be able to hit the 50-win mark for the first time since 2017-18.
After a busy offseason, the Celtics are a more talented and deeper team than they were a year ago.