Boston Celtics: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

After completely overhauling their roster following huge offseason moves, can the Celtics finally supplant the Cavs atop the East?


Offseason Recap

Arrivals: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Guerschon Yabusele, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, Shane Larkin, Kadeem Allen

Departures: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Gerald Green, Demetrius Jackson, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jordan Mickey, Kelly Olynyk, James Young, Tyler Zeller, Ante Zizic

Where to start with the Celtics’ offseason? After being criticized in past years for not pulling the trigger on a big deal, team president Danny Ainge just made one huge move after another this summer.

From the trade of the top overall pick all the way to the blockbuster Irving deal, Ainge has definitely stuck his neck out this offseason and has bet big on his front office’s evaluation of the likes of Tatum and Irving, not to mention head coach Brad Stevens’ ability to put all the pieces together in what is essentially an entirely new team.

It still remains to be seen whether the Celtics actually get better despite all those changes, though. Irving for Thomas is potentially a wash in terms of production (although the Celtics could have the edge if Thomas’ hip injury keeps him out for most of the year), and exchanging Crowder and Bradley for Hayward and Tatum is also pretty even.

They’ve undeniably added star power after getting both Hayward and Irving, though, and it’ll now be up to those stars to shine and make the situation work.

Projected Depth Chart

C – Al Horford / Aron Baynes / Daniel Theis

PF – Marcus Morris / Semi Ojeleye / Guerschon Yabusele

SF – Gordon Hayward / Jayson Tatum / Abdel Nader

SG – Jaylen Brown / Marcus Smart

PG – Kyrie Irving / Terry Rozier / Shane Larkin

Strengths

Few teams will have the amount of versatility that the Celtics will have offensively. With Hayward, Tatum, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, Abdel Nader, and Marcus Smart, they have a sheer army of versatile wing options to choose from. They also have a veritable Swiss Army knife in Al Horford, who can do just about everything at the center spot.

Additionally, they have one of the brightest young head coaches in the game in Stevens. Aside from his ingenious after-timeout plays, Stevens should be able to find the right lineup combinations for all the weapons he’ll have at his disposal.

Speaking of weapons, the Celtics also have one of the most dangerous offensive forces in the entire league with Irving at their disposal. The former Finals MVP is a proven big-time scorer as well as a big-game performer, particularly in the playoffs.

Irving was known more as a ball-stopper and not much of a playmaker during his time in Cleveland, but Stevens’ system could bring the best out of the former Cavs point guard, who will be utilized in similar ways that unleashed Thomas’ true potential.

Hayward isn’t an elite first option offensively, but he is perfectly cast as a secondary scorer on this team. He and Horford should be more than capable secondary playmakers behind Irving.

Weaknesses

For all the skills Horford brings to the table, he’s not a particularly great rebounder. And when the Celtics went small with him at center, their inability to control the boards was repeatedly exploited by their opponents, especially during the playoffs.

That rebounding problem wasn’t clearly addressed this offseason, either. Aron Baynes is a decent backup center, but his limitations offensively will render him unplayable for the key stretches in games.

The Celtics’ inability to secure the boards was a factor in the team’s defense taking a significant step back last season, going from 4th to 12th in defensive efficiency. Unless the Celtics suddenly improve their team rebounding, they could continue to be a middling defensive team this season.

Player to Watch – Jaylen Brown

Despite being the third overall pick last year, Brown wasn’t asked to do much as a rookie as he found himself playing in a very deep Celtics wing rotation. As such, he was able to focus more on the defensive end while his raw offensive game came along slowly.

After the Celtics stocked up on more scorers this offseason, Brown may continue to have a limited role in the offense. But he has shown improvements in that part of his game and should be more competent at executing in his second year.

With Bradley gone, Brown could potentially get the call to start at shooting guard due to his size and defensive ability. If he can progress into a halfway decent 3-and-D wing playing alongside the Celtics’ new stars, the team’s overall ceiling climbs that much higher.

2017/18 Schedule

Oct. 17 at Cleveland

Oct. 18 vs. Milwaukee

Oct. 20 at Philadelphia

Oct. 24 vs. NY Knicks

Oct. 26 at Milwaukee

Oct. 28 at Miami

Oct. 30 vs. San Antonio

Nov. 1 vs Sacramento

Nov. 3 at Oklahoma City

Nov. 5 at Orlando

Nov. 6 at Atlanta

Nov. 8 vs LA Lakers

Nov. 10 vs Charlotte

Nov. 12 vs. Toronto

Nov. 14 at Brooklyn

Nov. 16 vs. Golden State

Nov. 18 at Atlanta

Nov. 20 at Dallas

Nov. 22 at Miami

Nov. 24 vs Orlando

Nov. 25 at Indiana

Nov. 27 vs Detroit

Nov. 30 vs. Philadelphia

Dec. 2 vs Phoenix

Dec. 4 vs. Milwaukee

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas

Dec. 8 at San Antonio

Dec. 10 at Detroit

Dec. 11 at Chicago

Dec. 13 vs. Denver

Dec. 15 vs. Utah

Dec. 16 at Memphis

Dec. 18 at Indiana

Dec. 20 vs Miami

Dec. 21 at NY Knicks

Dec. 23 vs. Chicago

Dec. 25 vs. Washington

Dec. 27 at Charlotte

Dec. 28 vs Houston

Dec. 31 vs Brooklyn

Jan. 3 vs Cleveland

Jan. 5 vs Minnesota

Jan. 6 at Brooklyn

Jan. 11 vs. Philadelphia

Jan. 16 vs. New Orleans

Jan. 18 vs. Philadelphia

Jan. 21 vs. Orlando

Jan. 23 at LA Lakers

Jan. 24 at LA Clippers

Jan. 27 at Golden State

Jan. 29 at Denver

Jan. 31 vs. NY Knicks

Feb. 2 vs. Atlanta

Feb. 4 vs. Portland

Feb. 6 at Toronto

Feb. 8 at Washington

Feb. 9 vs. Indiana

Feb. 11 vs. Cleveland

Feb. 14 vs. LA Clippers

Feb. 23 at Detroit

Feb. 24 at NY Knicks

Feb. 26 vs. Memphis

Feb. 28 vs. Charlotte

March 3 at Houston

March 5 at Chicago

March 8 at Minnesota

March 11 vs. Indiana

March 14 vs. Washington

March 16 at Orlando

March 18 at New Orleans

March 20 vs. Okla. City

March 23 at Portland

March 25 at Sacramento

March 26 at Phoenix

March 28 at Utah

March 31 vs Toronto

April 3 at Milwaukee

April 4 at Toronto

April 6 vs. Chicago

April 8 vs Atlanta

April 10 at Washington

April 11 vs. Brooklyn

Prediction

Isaiah Thomas’ injury gives the Celtics the clear window to snatch the top seed in the East once again. However, they are not quite the super team that everyone expects even with Hayward and Irving on deck. They have some growing pains en route to a 52-30 record, but still can’t quite overcome James in the Eastern Conference finals.

  1. How far will the Celtics go in the playoffs this season?

    1. First/Second Round
    2. Eastern Conference Finals
    3. NBA Finals
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