Everyone is in love with the 2019 Boston Celtics. This team lost Gordon Hayward on the first game of the season and then lost Kyrie Irving before the playoffs, and still finished with the second best record in the Eastern Conference and made it to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Now with those two back healthy and the potential of Tatum and Brown being realized, this looks like the team to beat in the East and their win total is set at a huge 58.5 wins.
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Let’s start with Gordon Hayward. He’s back, but he’s not all the way back and he won’t be the same player he was with the Jazz in 2017. It’s going to take some time for him to get back to what he was and he’ll be brought along slowly this season. Managing a player’s minutes like that can mess with the rotations which can cause trouble for this team. Brad Stevens has said he’ll be on a 25 minutes per game restriction to start and when those minutes come will be a test.
That might actually work out at first as I think balancing the minutes to keep everyone happy is going to be an issue with this team. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier just led this team to the Eastern Conference Finals and now they have to give up some of those minutes they played for Hayward and Irving. Winning has a way of fixing these things, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some growing pains with that.
The bench will be very good though, however it shakes out. I could see Guerschon Yabusele breaking out for this team and grabbing some minutes. This team is loaded with wings, but there is always openings in the big man territory and I could see him seizing some minutes. Top draft pick Robert Williams will most likely be brought along slowly, similar to Yabusele last year who went back and forth between the G-League.
This was a defense first team last year with an offense that was more average than anything else. The offense really struggled last season without Irving or Horford on the floor. That should improve this year with the natural improvements of Tatum and Brown, plus the return of Irving and Hayward.
Going from a middle of the road offense to a top level offense will take time. I think they’ll get there, but there will be some bumps in the road. I think this is definitely one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but 59 wins seems like a stretch to me.
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