After the Boston Celtics' practice on Monday, Jaylen Brown stated that this past preseason was "one of the best" that he had ever been a part of.
It's easy to see why, as Boston won four of its five games, got its first look at newcomers Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday and brought a high level of intensity to the floor even with nothing on the line.
But things are about to get real.
The Celtics will head to New York on Wednesday night to tip off the 2023-24 campaign against the Knicks, one of five Eastern Conference opponents Boston will face to open the season.
Locked and loaded with a daunting starting lineup and a refurbished bench, the Celtics have a great chance to create some early separation in the East, but just how will these games play out?
Game 1 Prediction: Knicks 114, Celtics 111
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A season-opening loss is seemingly unfathomable considering the buzz that Boston generated this past offseason. Head coach Joe Mazzulla got himself a new and improved staff, Jaylen Brown became the richest man in NBA history and Celtics legends were just casually strolling into practice on a daily basis, among other things.
So, with all these good vibes circulating the team, it would only be right for Boston to come out and put up an absolute stinker in Game 1. Why? Because what's Celtics basketball without a handful of losses throughout the course of a season that make you question reality. This would be one of them.
New York gave Boston fits in 2022-23, winning three games of the four-game season series while averaging a whopping 119.5 points per contest. The Celtics are also 4-7 against the Knicks dating back to Jan. 17, 2021.
Boston's starters should be able to contain Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, but Immanuel Quickley and Josh Hart could have their way with the second unit, and that's where this game could slip away for the Celtics.