Celtics are Back, only 3-Months post “NBA Bubble”
It feels like we just finished up watching up the NBA bubble down in Orlando where the Celtics were defeated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Nearly three months later, the Celtics regular season is set to tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks and their recently extended star Giannis Antetokounmpo which will be a great start to start the season. Since the bubble, the Green look much different with some huge departures and big acquisitions in the recent weeks. With the Draft and Free Agency happening in a short span, the whole league saw stars switching homes in a flash. The Celtics created some youth in the backcourt drafting Aaron Nesmith out of Vanderbilt, and Payton Pritchard out of Oregon. Gordan Heyward was the big name to leave Boston as he was a part of a sign and trade with the Charlotte Hornets to create a backcourt with the third pick in the draft Lamelo Ball. After signing a super max to come to Boston, things did not seem to workout especially after Heyward’s gruesome leg injury on opening night a few seasons ago. With Brad Stevens as his college coach at Butler and then in the pros it was odd to see the relationship not flourish but Gordan still got a huge contract for 4 years and 120 million from the Hornets. Enes Kanter returned to Portland as the Celtics looked to acquire some depth for their front court before the season tipped off. They also looked to add a solid guard as Kemba Walker is still dealing with a lingering knee issue that followed him to the bubble as he was rushed back for the playoffs. After receiving a stem cell injection at the start of training camp, Walker is expected to miss the first few weeks of the shortened season as he and Brad Stevens want him back on the court at 100 percent. Dealing with departures and injuries the Celtics went out and acquired veteran guard Jeff Teague and well-known big man Tristian Thompson. Teague, who was a starting guard with the Atlanta Hawks and even saw some minutes with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Teague is a perfect backup guard and will be great to fill in with Kamba’s absence as he will fit in well with the Celtics. With the Celtics being unable to flip Gordan Heyward for a well-known big man from Indiana or Atlanta, Danny Ainge went out and sign Tristian Thompson to a bargain deal of 2 years at 19 million. The 9-year vet will bring a toughness to the Celtics with a great present in the front court as Thompson is a rebounding machine and can provide some down low scoring for the Celtics.
With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both signing contract extensions over the past two seasons the duo is the future here in Boston and they will look to take an even bigger step as they are in their third and fourth years in the league. The Celtics are high in most analytics power rankings as they rank among the best teams in the east with the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and newly loaded Brooklyn Nets. The next step forward for the Celtics is making the NBA Finals after losing twice in the eastern conference over the past four seasons. With the season shortened and playing the same teams more than a normal season due to travel, it is key to get off to a great start and trying to remain as healthy as possible. With no Kemba to start the season the Celtics must start strong and they will be tested early on with the Bucks and the Nets in the opening week.