The 2018/19 NBA season is just around the corner and we are looking to warm you up with a preview of the Eastern conference. The Boston Celtics surprised a lot of people last year as they made it to the Conference Finals without their two best players – Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayword. While Hayword broke his ankle in the very first game of the season (and did not return), Kyrie was in and out, but eventually missed the entire postseason. Nevertheless, the Celtics still made it past the first two rounds powered by their amazing team effort and the emergence of Jayson Tatum.
All Hail Danny
You have to give credit to Danny Ainge – the man with the master plan. The man who has steadily but surely designed a strong and young Celtics team that will be looking to start another great chapter in the long history of what has been the NBA’s most successful franchise. The story of his trading masterpieces is quite long, so we won’t be spending any time on it. Instead, let’s just look at the results – the current Boston roster. The starting five is quite impressive – Kyrie at the point, Jaylen Brown at shooting guard, Gordon Hayword SF, Jason Tatum PF, and Al Horford at the five. This is a scary lineup that can even take on the Warriors. But they also have some serious dept if you look at their bench – Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis. Mixed with one or two of the starters, they will have a second unit that’s probably the best in the league.
Injuries Could Be a Blessing in Disguise
Gordon Haywoord’s season ending ankle break injury gave Tatum a big chance and he made the most out of it. Ainge wanted Tatum and knew that he could get him even with the third pick, so he smartly opted to make a trade with the Sixers for it. It was a sublime move that epitomizes his executive genius. At the end, he got what he wanted and JT did not disappoint. The kid was thrown straight in the fire and not only did he deliver, but he excelled and surpassed all expectation. As a 19-year old last season, he played 80 regular season games and avereged 14 points on 48% shooting (43% 3-pt FG), 5 rebounds, 2 assists. However, as great players usually do, he produced his best when it mattered most and upped his scoring average in the postseason with 18.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG (rebounds), 2.7 APG (assists), and 1.2 SPG (steals). He broke a number of records in last year’s postseason run. First he became the youngest player to ever score at least 20 points in four straight playoff games at the age of 20 surpassing non other than Kobe Bryant. Then he became the first Celtics rooing to score 20 points in five straight playoff games passing Larry Bird. He finished with 10 games of 20 or more points scored in his first playoffs joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only two players to have ever done that. Wow.
We continue our 2018/19 NBA season preview with another man who made the most of his increased playing time – backup point guard Terry Rozier. Kyrie Irving missed the last 20 games of the regular season and the entire postseason and that opened up an opportunity for Scary Terry to step up and he did. Rozier has a nice form on his shot, really good looking, he admits he modeled it after MJ. He’s got a good stroke from three-point range, great handles. And on top of that, he is an excellent athlete – super quick, bouncy and strong. The guy can be a legitimate starter in the NBA and it will be hard for the Celtics to keep him once his rookie deal expires.
Of course, our 2018/19 NBA Season preview would not be complete without looking at the teams standing in the way of the Celtics in their quest for the finals. Now that LeBron moved to the Lakers, the biggest threats for the man in green are the Sixers and the Raptors. That’s just how bad the East is. It’s just three teams that are actual contenders. You can twist it and turn it any way you want, but the truth at the end is that the Celtics are a better team than both the Sixers and the Raptors. They are just deeper and more experienced. Of course, this is only true if they can stay healthy, but will they?