The Boston Celtics will open the 2016-17 season as one of the favored teams in the Eastern Conference. Here are a few predictions for the upcoming season.
The NBA is back and there is a lot to be excited about for the Boston Celtics. After a solid 2015-16 season, which included a playoff appearance as the 5th seed in the playoffs, the Celtics are poised to become one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference yet again.
With nearly the entire team returning from last season, as well as the addition of perennial all-star Al Horford, fans should have high expectations for the hometown team. Here are some predictions for the upcoming season, written from the future.
Isaiah and Al head to New Orleans
The Celtics were well represented in this year’s all-star game, as star point guard Isaiah Thomas and marquee free agent pickup Al Horford were selected to the Eastern Conference team. Thomas picked up right where he left off last season, averaging 23.0 points per game as the team’s go-to guy and most dynamic scorer. As expected, Horford’s transition was seamless.
Horford’s post play, combined with his ability to step out to the perimeter provided for new wrinkle in the Celtic’s high-powered offense. Boston was also in dying need of a presence on the boards, and Horford provided just that, despite his career rebound numbers being mediocre for a big man. His 9 rebounds per game lead the team, and helped fix one of the glaring needs.
Rozier excels in 6th man role
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The 2016-17 season was the coming out party for the young point guard. After a fairly quiet rookie campaign, the Louisville product established himself as one of the team’s most effective options of the bench.
After Marcus Smart struggled to stay on the court with a myriad of injuries, Rozier took advance of his newfound playing time. In his second year in the league, his numbers were respectable: 8 points per game, 3 assists and a very impressive 5 rebounds, making his case as one of the best rebounding guards in the league.
He’ll be sure to be a fixture on the Celtics roster for years to come.
After receiving recognition around the league the past few seasons as one of the best on ball defenders, Avery Bradley finally took the reigns as the best defender in the league, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
Despite frequent rumors swirling of Bradley being shipped away in a deal for DeMarcus Cousins, the sixth-year man was a pillar in the Celtic’s defense. Bradley’s ability to shut down the opposing team’s best scorer was critical, as the team collectively held opponents to 96 points per game, second in the league behind San Antonio.
Close, But No Cigar
In his fourth season as the coach of the Celtics, Brad Stevens finally got his team past the first round of the playoffs. As the second overall season in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics were impressive with a first round victory over the Washington Wizards and a hard fought series win in seven games over the Raptors in the second round.
Unfortunately, LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers were just too much for the green to handle in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the team gained league wide respect taking the series to a sixth game. With a lot of young of talent, and a boatload of draft picks, expect the green to be a title contender in the years to come.
Extra: Thanks Brooklyn
As good as the Celtics were in the 2016-17 season, the Brooklyn Nets were equally as bad. This was music to Celtics’ fans ears as the team held the rights to the Net’s first round draft pick. The music became even sweeter when the Nets won the NBA draft lottery, giving the Celtics the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, their first number one overall selection since 1950.
With a first overall selection for a team that fell just short of the NBA Finals, the Celtics will surely be a championship favorite in the 2017-18 season.