2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: Boston Celtics
2018-2019 Record: 49–33, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 4th in the East. Lost 4-1 to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Season Recap: The 2018 Boston Celtics were one of the biggest disappointments of last season. The team that many picked as an NBA Title favorite crumbled under the weight of ego and expectations. The constant infighting and inconsistent play on both ends doomed what was supposed to be the coming-out party for this generation of Celtics. Head coach Brad Stevens fiddled around with the rotation after the team’s early struggles, replacing Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. Boston was finally put out of their misery in five games by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.
Key Losses: Kyrie Irving (G); Al Horford (C); Marcus Morris (F); Terry Rozier (G)
Key Additions: Kemba Walker (G); Enes Kanter (C); Romeo Langford (F); Carson Edwards (G)
Preview: With the departure of Kyrie Irving Boston is poised to hand the franchise over to the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The two young wings look to take on more of the scoring burden alongside star guard Kemba Walker. The Celtics’ bench also appears to be in a youth movement, with rookies and second-year players expected to carry much of the load. Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, and the aforementioned Robert Williams are going to rely upon heavily this upcoming season.
After an entire year of the Celtics being considered favorites, this team is back playing the role they thrive in: underdog. The NBA world has begun to doubt if this group of players coached by Brad Stevens will go on a deep playoff run. That's when this team is at its most dangerous when they are able to exceed expectations and not be weighed down by them. Expect to see a new and improved Boston Celtics team. A team that plays hard every night, a team that plays like a team.
Player to Watch: Gordon Hayward (F)
Team X-Factor: Attacking the rim
Worst Case Scenario: The Celtics’ chemistry problems weren’t solved with the departure of Irving and Rozier, and the pending extensions of Brown and Tatum weigh on the team. Gordon Hayward’s first full, healthy, offseason doesn’t result in an increased level of play. Brad Stevens finds that none of the team’s centers are playable, causing the defense to slip. The worst case scenario ends with a first round exit and the firing of Stevens and/or Danny Ainge.
Best Case Scenario: The team meshes perfectly together, Hayward looks like the max player he was before the injury, Boston finds a playable center, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen take the next step in their careers and become stars. Another factor in this scenario is that Boston finally fulfills their promise and finally makes the NBA finals where they take down the hated LA Lakers.
Actual 2019-2020 Prediction: 55-27, 2nd in the Atlantic