Boston Celtics have reason to rejoice – it time for the playoffs!
Finally, the regular season is over, and the playoffs are about to begin! Like most Boston Celtics fans, this season couldn’t have ended fast enough. The season started with so much promise, but turned into an emotional roller coaster and ended with the Celtics earning the four seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
With the Indiana Pacers coming to town on Sunday afternoon, we will find out what version of the Celtics will we be seeing. Who will step up and fill the shoes of Marcus Smart? Will we finally get a glimpse of the team all Celtics fans thought they would see? In 48 short hours, we will have those answers!
With Sunday’s matchup with the Pacers comes our first glimpse of Kyrie Irving wearing the green and white in his first playoff action as a Celtic. This is what we’ve all been waiting for when the Celtics traded for him two summers ago.
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Everyone is hoping to see the guy who essentially locked up a championship for Cleveland with a dagger three-pointer, three summers ago. The player who has shown glimpses of being the most dominant point guard in the game and not the Kyrie with bad body language and gives cryptic quotes to the media after Celtics’ losses.
Joining Kyrie for his first taste of playoff action in a Celts uniform is Gordon Hayward. His season was up and down, as you’d expect coming back from a horrific injury that he suffered on opening night of last season.
It took him a while to round into form, but over the last five games, he has averaged 18.4 points per game while playing 30.8 minutes.
Gordon also seems like he’s not trying to do too much, and letting the game come to him. With Smart out for at least three weeks, I’m looking forward to seeing him log some extra minutes and playing like the Hayward of old.
According to Danny Ainge, Jayson Tatum is ready to go, which is big, especially (again) with Marcus being out of the lineup. Celts Nation had high expectations for him coming into this season with how well he performed as a rookie in last year’s playoffs.
He was essentially the “go-to-guy” for a team that fell one win short of heading to the NBA Finals. I think we are all hoping for the aggressive Tatum that averaged 18.5 points per game last playoff run at the age of 20. Celtics fans do not want to see the version of him taking off-balanced three pointers and complaining to the refs after every call he doesn’t get.
Two players that I’m looking forward to seeing suit up on Sunday are Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. Both had breakout performances in the playoffs last season with Brown averaging 18 points per game and Rozier averaging 16.5 points per game. I think everyone wants to see Rozier channel “Scary Terry” from last year’s run.
The one that embarrassed Eric Bledsoe on a nightly basis in their matchup with the Bucks. Whoever slides into the starting spot, whether it is Hayward or one of these two, the others need to provide big sparks off the bench and play monster defense too.
Indiana is a fun team and a good story since Oladipo got injured, but their bench shouldn’t be an issue for the Celtics. One thing we don’t need to see from Rozier is chucking up shots in transition or early in the offense. He also needs to lock down Darren Collison when called upon too.
The Celtics, aside from Smart, are also much healthier than they were last year. It was good to see Al Horford get a little rest in the last few games so he can be the steady anchor on defense like he’s been all season long.
I cannot wait to see the amount of Horford/Irving pick and rolls and pick and pops which have been a thing of beauty all season. Baynes and Theis can also extend the defense and hit the three, and between them, they have 12 fouls to use.
One wild card off the bench will be Semi Ojeleye. He didn’t play much this season with everyone healthy, but the defense he played on Giannis in the Bucks series last season stands out. He can hit the three and I look forward to seeing him getting some extended minutes.
One matchup I’d like to see for fun is Myles Turner vs. The Time Lord. Both of these players are over 6’10, played their college hoops in Texas and are known for being monsters on the defensive end. It won’t happen unless it’s garbage time or the Celts suffer a big injury in the front-court, but it would be fun to see these two go head to head for a few possessions. This could be a great matchup to keep an eye on in the future as well.
All in all, the Celtics will be ready to go in this round and use this series as a building block to extend their season. This takes nothing away from the Pacers, who played one heck of a season, but I think the Celts have too much firepower for them to beat them four times out of seven. The cavalry has arrived, time to get banner 18!
PREDICTION – CELTS IN 5