The Boston Celtics' 2021-22 season officially is underway with the regular-season opener vs. the New York Knicks in the books.
It was a disappointing albeit thrilling start to the campaign for C's fans as Boston and New York battled into double overtime. Celtics guard Marcus Smart forced OT with a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Jaylen Brown dropped a career-high 46 points, but the Knicks escaped with a 138-134 victory.
With 81 games to go, there's still plenty to be optimistic about with this Celtics team. Players are embracing the fresh start with new head coach Ime Udoka replacing Brad Stevens, who's now president of basketball operations. Stevens brought familiar faces back onto the roster in Al Horford and Enes Kanter, and added some intriguing new talent including Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson.
So, what can we expect from these Celtics this season? Our partners at Strat-O-Matic simulated the entire 2021-22 campaign, and they got some interesting results.
Let's jump in.
Eastern Conference standings
The Celtics improved from last season's 36-36 record and seventh-place finish in the East. Strat-O-Matic has Boston posting a 45-37 record in 2021-22, resulting in the sixth seed and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division.
Here's a look at the full simulation standings:
|1. Brooklyn Nets||60-22||.732|
|2. Milwaukee Bucks||57-25||.695||3|
|3. Miami Heat||54-28||.659||6|
|4. Philadelphia 76ers||52-30||.634||8|
|5. Atlanta Hawks||51-30||.622||9|
|6. Boston Celtics||45-37||.549||15|
|7. Chicago Bulls||42-40||.512||18|
|8. New York Knicks||40-42||.488||20|
|9. Toronto Raptors||37-45||.451||23|
|10. Charlotte Hornets||36-46||.439||24|
|11. Indiana Pacers||32-50||.390||28|
|12. Cleveland Cavaliers||30-52||.366||30|
|13. Washington Wizards||28-54||.341||32|
|14. Detroit Pistons||26-56||.317||34|
|15. Orlando Magic||13-69||.159||47|
Celtics by the numbers
In Strat-O-Matic's simulation, Jayson Tatum saw his points per game dip from last season's 26.4 to 22.6, though he remained the team leader in that category. The 23-year-old's shooting percentage also dropped from 45.9 to 41.7.
Jaylen Brown also regressed in points per game (24.7 to 18.6), assists (3.4 to 2.8), and rebounds (6.0 to 5.2).
Here's how each of the C's key contributors performed in the simulated 2021-22 season:
The sim also has Payton Pritchard averaging 5.9 points per game off the bench and second-year forward Aaron Nesmith contributing 4.2 points per contest for the second unit.
2021-22 NBA Playoffs
With that sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics drew the third-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. That's where Boston's season came to an end, as it fell to Miami in five games.
The top-seeded Brooklyn Nets (60-22) met the No. 5 seed Los Angeles Clippers (52-30) in the NBA Finals, beating them in seven games.