The NBA season is only thirteen days from starting back up, and what a time to be a Celtics fan. Our almost brand-new roster has big-name players, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford, as well as many young talented future stars. We finally made it to the light at the end of the tunnel and can actually contend for championships.
That being said, Celtics fans in no way should expect a championship this season. If they believe that this team is currently better than the Warriors or could beat them in a seven-game series, they are wildly incorrect. We might not even beat Cleveland. I am a huge Celtics fan, and would love to see this team succeed, however, I am also an NBA fan, and from that point of view, I have to accept what this Celtics team can realistically accomplish this season.
Expect this team to have a rough few weeks to begin the season. Nothing too drastic or anything, but we are not going to start the season, say, 15-0. In 2011, the Miami Heat started the season 8-8 and then made the championship 4 straight years. I am assuming that this going to be a similar start to the Celtics this season, and in typical fashion, the Boston media is going to go CRAZY. We really shouldn’t evaluate this team until after the Christmas games. Let them get a few weeks of games under their belt, start to gel and develop chemistry, and have a great January-March before playoffs.
There will be no reason to panic at the beginning of the year when the Bucks and Wizards control the top two seeds for a few weeks while Cleveland and Boston are developing chemistry and get ready to take back the top two spots in the East. We’ll be fine.
Lack of Rebounding
Rebounding the basketball is either going to send us to the Finals or have us be eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals. The one aspect of the game that this team is missing is rebounding. Our main rebounders are Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and Aron Baynes… yikes. All three of these guys underperform in the rebounding part of their game especially for players their size. Yes, Horford pulled down a lot of boards during his time in Atlanta, but that number has declined fast over the past four seasons dropping from 10.2 RPG to a mediocre 6.8 RPG. At 6’11” 250lbs, there is no reason that an NBA star should be pulling down six rebounds a game. If we want to win, Horford especially is going to have to be more aggressive in the paint.
Morris and Baynes are not too impressive either. Morris averages 4.2 RPG at 6’9″ 235lbs and Baynes pulled down 4.1 RPG at 6’10” 260lbs. Together they average 8.3 RPG while point guard Russell Westbrook averaged 10.1 RPG last season. No excuse or spin-zoning is allowed here. They should and need to be able to be more aggressive on the court to get some rebounds.
A young player I can see helping this team out in rebounding is none other than “The Dancing Bear,” Guerschon Yabusele. The guy’s arms are big enough to land planes on, and rebounding is what he specializes in. I expect him to start at the four sooner than most people think.
If this team does not fix this problem, then they can watch Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love grab every ball out of the air and dunk on them until they head back home and watch the Finals from their couches.
Run and Gun Mentality
Young talent means one thing and one thing only: speed. Expect the Celtics to get on the break as soon as they come down with a rebound. Yes, we have enough offensive weapons to succeed with a half-court offense, but why waste an aspect of our game that can put us at another level, especially with Kyrie running point guard now! My guess is that we have top three most fast break points in the league this year.
Jaylen Brown Squashes Sophomore Slump Myth
Brown could be the most important part of this team this season. Call me crazy, but I actually think that. In order to succeed, Brown has got to chip in anywhere from 12-14 PPG on a nightly basis as well as step up in rebounding at his position. I would love to see him start at the shooting guard, and I think that he can provide a new dynamic to that position. The way Jaylen ended last year, I see no signs of him slowing down in the slightest bit. He can be the perfect third scoring option behind Kyrie and Hayward, and will especially have to lead the second group guys when they play together. Like I said, this season revolves around Jaylen way more than people think so, but I am so here for it.
Jayson Tatum is not Rookie of the Year Caliber… and That’s Perfect
Reality check: Tatum will not come close to winning Rookie of the Year. I’m sorry if that bursts your bubble, but come on, this guy got drafted to the first seed in the east last year and is playing behind multiple all-stars. Rookies of the Year are normally playing on garbage teams, so their stats look extra-good due to the number of minutes they play. That being said, we don’t need him to play like Rookie of the Year. Don’t get me wrong, if by some miracle Tatum pulls off Rookie of the Year, I am going to be ecstatic, but he simply does not need to do that. He has one job and one job only: score. I expect Tatum to pick up Brown’s minutes from last year and come in for some instant offense. If he averages 10 PPG, I will see that as a successful year for the rook. Give him a few years until we want him to play like an all-star, but for now, he should just focus on putting the round ball into the shooty hoop.
Winning, Winning, and Some More Winning
Thirteen days. 1-3!!! I cannot WAIT. This team is going to be awesome. They are a lock for at least the two seed and Eastern Conference Finals. If they beat Cleveland and make it to the Warriors then hey, this season is a success. If for some reason, the Warriors forget how to play basketball in the playoffs and don’t make the Finals, I am confident that this team can beat any other team in the West in a seven-game series. Let’s just make sure of one thing though: GET LEBRON OUT OF CLEVELAND. We got to beat the Cavs every game this year to show him that this “super team” of his is no match for the future of this team. Get him to LA, get him out of our hair. It’s our time to run the East. I just wish more than anything that I could be at the Garden for their home opener. Let’s go Celtics!
For more correct takes on the NBA listen to Parkball Heroes on Soundcloud and Apple Podcasts once I figure out how to actually put it on Apple. If you just feel like listening to Celtics talk, go to Soundcloud and listen to Shamrock Shakedown.