A green light shines through a dark cave… You hear terrifying shrieks in the distance. You follow the light despite your gut telling you to turn away. As the light gets brighter, your eyes begin to make out shapes and you begin realizing your pending fate. As you brace yourself for your sudden doom, you realize, you’ve just entered my first Boston Celtics column of the new year.
Oh baby, we are t-minus 16 days away from the Celtics first preseason game. That’s right! We are 16 days away from Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford stepping on an NBA court as a healthy unit for the first time in 11 months. Has any fan base been more excited for the first preseason game as Celtics fans are? Or is it just me? Just me? Okay, whatever.
The Celtics announced yesterday that Hayward will have a press conference this afternoon at the Celtics brand new practice facility. The announcement? If one had to guess, it’s that Mr. Daddy’s Always Happy himself is fully cleared for the start of training camp next week.
In Kyrie Irving news, video surfaced of Kyrie hooping in Miami over the weekend. Boy oh boy does he look like he hasn’t missed a beat after his knee procedure that ended his season.
It’s time to get excited folks. This team was a quarter away from the NBA Finals in May. Not only are they bringing back 95 percent of the playoff roster but they’ll be bolstered by the returns of two all-stars.
As Opening Night approaches, the Celtics will work on balancing out one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. What does Brad Stevens do with the starting lineup? Does he rock with the 2017 Opening Night lineup this year and go with the super small but super versatile lineup? Starting a lineup consisting of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, and Horford would be a relatively small lineup to go with on a nightly basis. They’d be insanely unguardable though.
The ball movement the five showed last preseason as a unit was a gem to watch, with Tatum and Brown getting another year older it could be even prettier. The Celtics would bolster a starting five in which every player shot around 40 percent from deep in there most recent season. If that is not a Brad Stevens wet dream, I don’t know what is.
Another lineup option would be Coach Stevens keeping Aron Baynes in the lineup and adding either Hayward, Tatum or Brown to a bench unit that already features Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Marcus Smart.
Whatever Stevens decides to do, I don’t see anyone averaging over 30 minutes per game this season. Boston’s deep enough to go 10 or 11 deep on a nightly basis in order to preserve the health of his core group.
In a post-LeBron James Eastern Conference, the Celtics enter the season as the projected top dogs of the Eastern Conference. With the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers right on their heels in the conference.
Side note: While we are on the subject of Philadelphia, why does the NBA insist on making Boston and Philly a huge rivalry this season. Do they not remember the Celtics waxing the 76ers in five games without their best two players? Okay NBA we’ll play along.
In closing, it’s time to put your green goggles on ladies and gentlemen. We are only weeks away from the Celtics taking the floor again. In a season full of expectations and promise, it’s a terrific time to be in Boston. The Celtics are back in championship contention, if that doesn’t make the green blood flow to the nether regions, I can’t tell you what will. The journey to banner No. 18 starts now, it’s party time.
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