The NBA season is finally upon us, and that can only mean one thing, more Boston Celtics basketball. After earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last year, the Celtics were almost upset by Chicago in the first round, but were able to overcome the 2-0 deficit. Their second-round opponent was Washington, who took them to seven games, but the Celtics were able to book their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland, who defeated them in a five game “gentleman’s sweep” series. Then came the offseason, one of the craziest and most exciting iterations in years. The Celtics return only four players from that 2016-17 squad, adding two superstars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the latter was part of a blockbuster deal with Cleveland. Now that the season is here, it’s time to break down what to expect from the Boys in Green in the first week of the new season.
The Celtics open the season with a rematch of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Both teams have made major moves this offseason, including the trade that was pulled off between the two. In exchange for Irving, the Celtics gave the Cavaliers rookie center Ante Zizic, defensive specialist Jae Crowder, and star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who will be out until at least December with a hip injury. The following night, the Celtics head back home to Boston, hosting Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Friday night, the Celtics will head south to Philly to try to stop Joel Embiid and the rest of the Sixers. Fortunately for the Celtics, Sixers coach Brett Brown has stated that Embiid, coming off knee surgery, will be given limited minutes at the beginning of the season.
CAN’T MISS GAME
The “can’t miss” game of the week is that opening night game against the Cavaliers. Both teams come into the game wanting to demolish the other. This matchup has become the closest thing to a rivalry in the Eastern Conference, even though it has been pretty one-sided since LeBron James came back to Cleveland. But, with Thomas injured, the Cavs will have to rely on injury-prone former star Derrick Rose to run the point for the time being. Rose isn’t nearly as explosive as he once was, but can still show flashes of brilliance.
PLAYER TO WATCH
With all these new players coming into the Celtics’ rotation, there are a plethora of choices for this distinction. But in the end, it could only go to Kyrie Irving. The marquee addition to the Celtics starting lineup, the August trade that brought the point guard to Boston came out of nowhere to fans and experts alike. Now in the first game of the season, Irving will be tasked with leading his new team against the team he wanted to leave. Kyrie will come out with something to prove, and as will the Cavaliers. Expect Irving to attempt to put up at least 25 points against his old team in QuickenLoans Arena.
Despite Kyrie’s heroics in game one of the new campaign, the Celtics will narrowly lose in a game that will set the tone for an exciting 2017-18 season. After the tough loss to Cleveland, the Celtics defend their home floor with a convincing victory over the Bucks. Friday night, the Celtics will not Trust the Process, defeating the Sixers by a large margin.
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