Kyrie, New-Look Celtics To Tip-Off NBA Season

Posted October 16, 2017 by Jason Balla in Sports
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I’ve grown up looking forward to the next couple of weeks in the sports world – to me, there’s nothing else like it. There’s something for everyone to love. College football and the NFL are off and running, pucks have dropped on the young hockey season and the MLB playoffs are in full swing (even though the Sox exited a little earlier than we would have liked). This week, the NBA will tip off on the 2017-18 and the last piece to the puzzle will be in place. The start of the Celtics’ season might be the most anticipated of all Boston-area teams. Coming off a disappointing performance in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Celtics have a new look. And with that new look, comes a new hope for Boston.

On Tuesday, August 23rd, the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers announced a trade that sent ripples through the NBA. The Celtics sent point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for point guard Kyrie Irving. The deal came after Irving had said he no longer wanted to play with super star LeBron James and desired to have more of a role and be the focal point on a team.

Yes, Boston will miss the 28.8 points-per-game Thomas gave them, but Crowder will also be missed. He averaged 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds last season and had a more-than-reasonable cap number on the books. Crowder joins a list of role players that fans watched leave the Celtics including: Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. But don’t forget what you got in this deal Boston!

Irving is slightly younger than Thomas and has three years left on his deal. He is very explosive and one of the best scorers in the entire league. There is huge upside for the young point guard, leaving fans hoping that not only will the Celtics be in contention now, but also for years to come. Irving is going to get exactly what he asked for: He will have every chance to become the new face of this franchise.

The Celtics added another major piece to their roster in the offseason when they signed forward Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz in free agency. Hayward came off a career year in Utah averaging almost 22 points and 5.4 rebounds per-game, as he reunites with his former college basketball coach in Brad Stevens from Butler University. At Butler, Stevens led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the NCAA Championship in 2010.

Along with Irving and Hayward, Stevens hinted his starting lineup for opening night would also include Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. Rookie Tatum showed optimism in the preseason picking up right where he left off at Duke University and Horford is a proven All-Star that can stretch the floor. That leaves Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris to come off the bench. Smart plays a ton of minutes and will be asked to provide support on both sides of the ball while Morris was brought in via trade this season to be more of a defensive presence.

One thing is for sure, these Celtics will certainly look different this year. It might take some time for them get in a groove together and defense could be an issue like it has been in the past. But Stevens is known for being able to bring out the best in young players and putting them in positions where they succeed. So as weird as it may seem at first Celtics’ fans, give it a little time. I think there is plenty to be excited about this season.

The Celtics and Cavaliers play in the very first game of the NBA season in Cleveland at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17.