The Boston Celtics will be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes next month at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Boston enters the league's restart as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference -- three games behind the Toronto Raptors in second place.
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The Celtics have received plenty of praise in recent weeks since the league announced its return to play plan.
ESPN's Jalen Rose actually predicted the C's would win the Eastern Conference and reach the 2020 NBA Finals. Former Celtics center and 2008 NBA champion Kendrick Perkins also thinks the Celtics will represent the East in the Finals. FOX Sports 1's Colin Cowherd called Boston "a contender" and labeled C's forward Jayson Tatum "the second-best player in the East."
The latest national voice to give props to the Celtics came from ESPN NBA analyst Paul Pierce. The Celtics legend called his former team's starting five the best in the league during Friday night's ESPN show announcing the return schedule.
I’ll wait pic.twitter.com/CIjA0cGeRW— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) June 26, 2020
Pierce has a strong case here.
The Celtics are the only team with three players averaging 20 or more points per game. Jayson Tatum leads the team with 23.6 points per game, with Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown also averaging 20-plus points. Another starter, Gordon Hayward, is not far behind at 17.3 points per game. Boston's bench scoring has been inconsistent all season, and the team will need offensive contributions from the likes of Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, Brad Wanamaker, Marcus Smart and other role players to make a deep playoff run. But when the starters are on the floor, the C's are capable of beating any opponent.
For the Celtics to earn as high of a seed as possible in the East, they will have to emerge from the following schedule with a good record. Here's the complete Celtics schedule for the eight seeding games. Every single matchup will be on NBC Sports Boston.
Friday, July 31, 6:30 p.m. ET: vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Sunday, Aug. 2, 3:30 p.m.: vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m.: vs. Miami Heat
Wednesday, Aug. 5, 9 p.m.: vs. Brooklyn Nets
Friday, Aug. 7, 9 p.m.: vs. Toronto Raptors
Sunday, Aug. 9, 5 p.m.: vs. Orlando Magic
Tuesday, Aug. 11, 6:30 p.m.: vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Thursday, Aug. 13, TBD: vs. Washington Wizards