One of the most highly anticipated Celtics seasons in recent memory has finally arrived. We might as well get it started with some real answers to fake questions. Let’s start with the guy in the back wearing the “Don’t Hatum, it’s Tatum” shirt.
So once we add Gordon Hayward’s 50 points per game, we’ll win 75 games, right?
Hayward’s return will be a boon to the Celtics. He is a playmaking, versatile, 3-point-shooting former All-Star. But it will be important to be patient. About 17 months have passed since he last played a full NBA game. During the preseason, he appeared cautious and even a step slow at times, and he was dealing with a sore back.
He freely admits that he is well aware of his surgically repaired ankle while he is on the court, and he is looking forward to the day when that is no longer the case.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Monday that Hayward probably will be limited to about 25 minutes per game over the first few weeks. But this past week was Hayward’s best since his return, so that’s encouraging.
“The basketball rhythms of the game and timing are still things that I’m working out,” Hayward said. “And we had a great week of practice that I think I played pretty well in, and improved a lot this last week. But I know it’s still going to be a little bit of a process.”
Kyrie Irving’s knee surgery kept him out of the playoffs. Should we expect rust from him, too?
Irving does not look like someone who was sidelined for about four months after having infected hardware removed from his knee. He is moving well, and he has made it clear that he feels great. He’ll look like video-game Kyrie on Tuesday.
Remember when he said he wants to be in Boston forever? That was awesome. What does that mean for my guy Terry Rozier?
Nothing is forever, except for Marcus Smart’s floor burns. But yes, Irving did say this month that he intends to re-sign with Boston at season’s end, which is great news for the Celtics.
Rozier did not agree to terms on an extension before Monday’s deadline, meaning he will likely become a restricted free agent at season’s end. He wants to be a starting point guard and be paid like one, but as a restricted free agent, the Celtics will have the final say.
They could look to trade Rozier before February’s deadline, but if they have real NBA title visions this year, I don’t think they will do that. The most likely scenario is that Rozier signs a big offer sheet with another team in July, and the Celtics decide how they wish to proceed.
Now that LeBron is gone, can I buy my Finals tickets?
LeBron James reached the NBA Finals in eight consecutive seasons, and now he is a Laker. The Celtics are rightfully favored to win the East this year, but a few potholes could develop.
The Raptors finished four games ahead of Boston last year and have added All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard. The 76ers’ young core is a year older, and 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz appears to have improved. The Bucks, who battled the Celtics in a seven-game opening-round playoff series, probably have the best player in the conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I really only came to this thing looking for some wild predictions to make fun of you later. Give us some.
Fine. I think the Celtics will win 59 games and reach the NBA Finals, where they will lose to the Warriors in five games. I think Irving, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum will be named All-Stars and Brad Stevens will be Coach of the Year. I think Gordon Hayward will look like the old Gordon Hayward again sometime in December.
That was overly positive. What are some things that concern you?
Snowstorms. Grocery stores the day before snowstorms. Stuff like that.
About the Celtics.
Jaylen Brown’s free-throw shooting. Marcus Morris’s reaction to a potentially reduced role. How Hayward’s ankle will affect him mentally and physically. Tatum’s reluctance to take 3-pointers and Smart’s struggles to make 3-pointers. And this young team getting caught up in the hype.
Wow, no need to be such a downer, man.
I know it’s important to live in the now, but I can’t stop thinking about the future. Remind me what I should pay attention to this year regarding those other draft picks the Celtics might receive.
The bad news for Boston is that the Nets’ obligation has finally been fulfilled. For those scoring at home, the Celtics selected Brown and Tatum with two of the Nets picks, and used another as the key piece to acquire Irving.
The good news is that Danny Ainge’s treasure chest is never truly empty. The Celtics will receive the better of the Kings’ and 76ers’ first-round picks, as long as neither is the No. 1 overall choice. It is all but guaranteed that Sacramento will be worse than Philadelphia.
If the Grizzlies’ first-round pick falls between 9-30, the Celtics will receive it. If it does not, it will roll over to next season, when Boston would receive the choice if it falls in the 7-30 range. If that still does not qualify, the choice would be unprotected in 2021.
(Game-show host voice) But that’s not all! The Celtics also will receive the Clippers’ pick if it falls in the 15-30 range. If it does not, the Celtics will get another chance at it next year before it becomes a second-round pick.
I’m excited about first-round draft pick Robert Williams. What should we expect from him?
Williams is an athletic leaper who will enchant fans with a blocked shot or a dunk when given the opportunity. But don’t expect that to happen very often this year.
He is still a raw talent, and the Celtics are impossibly deep. Look for Williams to spend plenty of time with the Maine Red Claws.