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Where does the Boston Celtics’ starting five stack up in the Eastern Conference?

After new Utah Jazz CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge dealt away star wing Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, shaking up their starting lineup in the process.

And as momentous as that move was, did the Mitchell deal really change the projected order of the NBA’s Eastern Conference starting units? Though they lost veteran swingman Danilo Gallinari for the season with a torn left ACL, the Boston Celtics still find themselves at the top of the projections in the East for expected regular season wins — but where do their starters rank after the Mitchell deal?

An assessment by Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz claims the Celtics remain the best starting unit in the conference.

 

Swarts projects Boston to start Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III next season, and writes that it should “be no surprise that the defending East champions also have the best starting lineup in the conference.”

“A net rating of plus-24.6 (!!!) in 443 minutes is no fluke and speaks to just how cohesive, complete and talented (especially defensively) these Celtics can be.”

“Led by Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Williams, a possible future DPOY, Boston’s opening five held opponents to 94.2 points per 100 possessions last season,” adds Swartz.

“There’s no one to pick on in this group, not even 36-year-old Al Horford.”

“If Horford begins to show his age this season, the Celtics could be even better by swapping him out for Grant Williams,” claims the B/R analyst.

“When the 23-year-old forward shared the floor with Tatum, Brown, Smart, and Robert Williams, Boston’s net rating was somehow even better (plus-31.0). Add in the experience of making a Finals run together, plus the fact that Tatum, Brown, Smart, and Robert Williams are all 24-to-28 years of age, and you get a sustainable core that is all under contract for the next two-plus years.”

“In a conference that is now the NBA’s deepest, Boston’s starting five stands above all,” writes Swartz.

To be frank, this isn’t exactly a surprise to use given what we saw from the Celtics last season and the fact that all of Boston’s previous starters are returning and young enough to add to their games save Horford.

While the proof is of course within the proverbial pudding, the Celtics should indeed be the favorites to have the East’s best starting five.

Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

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