The Boston Celtics are finally going to play a real basketball game with their retooled roster as they open the NBA season with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Well, the Boston Celtics have had one of the wildest NBA offseasons in history, but that comes to a close on Tuesday night when they take on LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
The summer began with the signing of Gordon Hayward in free agency, and we all thought that would be the biggest move of the year. Then, the Celtics dropped a bomb by trading Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving in a deal with the Cavaliers. That was the summer’s biggest news. While Thomas remains salty about Danny Ainge trading him, Kyrie couldn’t be any happier to be in Boston. The Cavaliers will have a video tribute to their former star at the game tonight.
In a way, this has to be a positive for Hayward, because now he won’t be looked at as “the guy” and he won’t need to score 30 points a game. Kyrie Irving will likely attract most of the attention, leaving Hayward free to play his game.
Those 2 guys aren’t the only new faces in Boston though. Only four players from last season’s Eastern Conference Finals team remain. Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier are those 4.
Marcus Morris was brought in to add some size, as was Aron Baynes. Forwards Geurschon Yabusele, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Abdel Nader will also see some playing time. Veteran Shane Larkin won’t be out on the court too much, but he could be a great locker room presence and will contribute at times. Likely the biggest addition though (outside of Irving and Gordon) is probably rookie Jayson Tatum.
The Boston Celtics chose to trade their #1 overall draft pick to the 76ers and instead drafted Duke’s Jayson Tatum with #3 pick. They passed on the opportunity to select Washington’s Markelle Fultz, so you know that Danny Ainge likely wanted Tatum the whole time. Since then. Tatum has been drawing some high praise, and it looks like he’ll be in Boston’s starting lineup to open the season.
Boston’s Starting Lineup
- Kyrie Irving
- Jayson Tatum
- Jaylen Brown
- Gordon Hayward
- Al Horford
This is honestly a bit of a surprising starting lineup to me, although I guess it shouldn’t be. At first, I thought Marcus Morris would be a starter, but he missed some time in the preseason and is now dealing with a knee injury, so this makes sense. The Celtics will have one of the best second units in the NBA though now, led by Marcus Smart. He’s going to have a breakout year and it’ll be a lot of fun to watch. He should be joined by Morris, Ojeleye, Rozier, and Baynes on that unit. That will have to change a bit tonight though with Morris out. Don’t be surprised though if you see Marcus Smart on the court down the stretch to help close games out.
Now, here are my player projections and my game prediction for the Celtics season opener against the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving: 24 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds
Kyrie is ready to bring it against his former team, and he will. Surprisingly, these numbers are right around Irving’s career averages. If he keeps that up, the Celtics will have no problem earning a win on Tuesday.
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Al Horford: 18 points, 8 assists, 9 rebounds
I personally believe we are going to see an uptick in Horford’s assist numbers this season. He’ll be close to a double-double or triple-double tonight, but will be just short. Still, 8 assists from the big man will be crucial.
Marcus Smart: 18 points, 60% 3PT, 5 assists, 3 rebounds
The second unit spark plug is going to make some big plays. I think he’ll standout defensively, but he’ll also put up a big game off the bench offensively. I’m projecting two made 3-pointers for Smart as he adds 18 total points for the team in green.
Game Prediction: Celtics 104, Cavaliers 99
The Boston Celtics are going to surprise the Cavaliers with how quickly they’ve come together. I don’t think that Cleveland has the tools defensively to be able to slow everyone on this Celtics team down. Kyrie will have a big night against his former team, and as always Al Horford will keep on grinding. A slim Marcus Smart will be a difference maker off the bench with a few key 3-point shots. This game will be close, but Boston will be the one closing things out with free throws as the final buzzer nears.
The Celtics – Cavs game will tip-off at 8:00 PM ET as part of a doubleheader on TNT. The second game features the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, and they’ll tip at 10:30. With a national audience, all four teams will be looking to make a statement, and the Celtics will with a huge win to open the season.