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NBA 2017-18 Eastern Conference Outlook: Will the Celtics reach new heights with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward?

NBA 2017-18 Eastern Conference Outlook: Will the Celtics reach new heights with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward?

CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Boston Celtics' outlook...

2016-17 record: 53-29, 1st in East
Coach: Brad Stevens
Key additions: PG Kyrie Irving, SF Gordon Hayward, SF Jayson Tatum, SF Marcus Morris
Key losses: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG Avery Bradley, SF Jae Crowder, C Kelly Olynyk
Projected lineup: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Gordon Hayward, SF Jaylen Brown, PF Marcus Morris, C Al Horford

Biggest questions:

1. Can Irving and Hayward adjust quickly?

No team in the NBA added more talent this offseason than the Boston Celtics, who managed to bring in two All-Stars in Irving and Hayward. Irving should be able to step right in as a prolific scorer and Hayward will bring value on both ends of the floor. But adding two stars of their magnitude will not be easy and could make for an interesting start to the season. Stevens has 11 new players on his roster and has to figure out how to make it work with Irving and Hayward as the centerpieces.

Hayward has the advantage of being familiar with Stevens and his philosophies, having played under him in college. But that was seven years ago. A lot has changed since then. It wouldn't be surprising if either Irving and/or Hayward struggles early on as they adjust to a new team and new system.


2. How good will Brown and Tatum be?

In addition to Irving and Hayward, the Celtics also brought in Tatum with the third overall pick in this summer's draft. That gives them each of the last two third overall picks and both play the same position. Brown is entering his second year and should benefit from experience. He was solid defensively as a rookie but inconsistent on offense. He has the athleticism and skills to make a major impact this season.

Tatum had a terrific summer league and could develop into an offensive spark off the bench at some point this year. But he will have to adjust to scoring with less touches than he is used to. With so much depth at the wing position, it won't be easy for Tatum to earn a large role early on in his career.

3. Will they be better?

The Celtics gambled a bit this offseason, considering they were the top team in the East based on record, yet they completely overhauled their roster. There's no question they added talent and set themselves up better for the longhaul, but they are a tough team to project in the short-term. Will they click instantly or take some time to adjust, opening the door for other teams in 2016-17?

One important area to consider is defense, as they will almost certainly take a step back having lost Bradley and Crowder. Those guys will be sorely missed against guard-centric teams like the Wizards and Raptors. We know the Celtics will be good again, but how good is not easy to predict and we may not truly know until playoff time.

More 2017-18 previews:

Toronto Raptors

Milwaukee Bucks

Chicago Bulls

Indiana Pacers

Cleveland Cavaliers



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

Here are the best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 115-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

1. Much of the attention going into any Wizards-Pistons game these days will be on John Wall and Reggie Jackson, as the two have had a mini-rivalry over the years. It was a long night for Jackson, as you'll see throughout this post, and it started with this putback jumper by Wall that left Jackson in the dust:

2. Wall finished with 26 points, 10 assists and two blocks. Both of his blocks were amazing. The first was this one, on Tobias Harris who is a power forward:


3. Wall's 28 points were much quieter than in the season-opener when he was dunking all over everyone. In this game, though, he did have this sick layup on the fastbreak:

4. Bradley Beal was also an offensive standout with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. One of his best plays was this and-1 late in the game:

Here's a bonus clip. Beal (25 points) had a few nice crossovers that ended in missed shots. This was one of them:

5. Okay, here's the second Wall block. It was on Jackson and it came at the perfect time. This helped seal the win:


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John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

If you have thought to yourself over the years that John Wall is very good at blocking shots for a point guard, then don't worry, he's fully aware. Wall, in fact, believes there has never been one better in the history of the game.

Seriously. Wall staked his claim after Friday night's win over the Pistons, one in which he had two jawdropping blocks; one against a power forward and the other with just 14 seconds left to help seal the victory.

"That's just me playing defense. I think I'm the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history. I'm trying to set records," he said.

First, let's look at the aforementioned blocks before we break down Wall's proclomation. The power forward who felt his wrath was Tobias Harris. Wall is 6-foot-4 and Harris is 6-foot-8:

The second block was as timely as it gets. If Wall doesn't swat this one away, who knows how the game turns out:

Wall understandably got some serious praise for those plays.

"Those are blocks that point guards are not supposed to make, but he has a special ability to make those plays throughout the game," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"It's the will to win, man," Bradley Beal said. "It's a timing thing. A lot of his transition ones, I will cut the guy off just so he can go block it. It's all about timing. He has great timing and great athleticism."

Now, for Wall's claim itself. There certainly aren't many guards who come to mind for shot-blocking. Dwyane Wade is known as being one of the best, but he's a shooting guard.

Wade, in fact, has the most career blocks ever for a guard with 802. Wall, though, has the second-most among active players at the guard position with 326. He's already 10th in NBA history for guards. Here is the top 10:

1. Dwyane Wade - 802*
2. Clyde Drexler - 719
3. Dennis Johnson - 675
4. Jason Kidd - 450
5. Kendall Gill - 432
6. Latrell Sprewell - 399
7. Jason Richardson - 367
8. Baron Davis - 360
9. Doc Rivers - 351
10. John Wall - 326*

(via Basketball Reference)

That's an excellent list of NBA names to be a part of. Only Johnson, Kidd, Davis and Wall are point guards, meaning Wall is already fourth all-time in career blocks at his position and the active leader. To set the all-time record, he will need 350 more to pass Johnson. That won't be easy, but it's feasible based on his career numbers.

Wall averaged 46 blocks per year in his first seven seasons. He would have to keep going at that rate for more than 7 1/2 seasons to pass Johnson. Given Wall is 27, he would have to still be blocking shots in his mid-30s.

It is certainly possible. Wall has averaged 0.6 blocks per game in his career and Wade is still at that pace now at Age 35. Wade, however, was averaging over a block per game in his prime, when he was Wall's age.

Wall may need to pick up his pace a bit to back up the claim he made on Friday night, but there's no denying that he's on track to at least make it interesting.