Celtics

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared in Red Claws win over Raptors 905

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared in Red Claws win over Raptors 905

The Maine Red Claws improved to 3-0 on the season Sunday with a 129-115  victory over the Raptors 905.

Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters were the Boston Celtics rookies in the spotlight with No. 14 overall draft pick Romeo Langford out due to a right ankle sprain suffered in Friday night's home opener.

Here's how they performed in the win:

TACKO FALL

Tacko just continues to impress. The 7-foot-5 phenom was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field for a total of 21 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. 

TREMONT WATERS

It was a quieter day for Waters as he tallied only eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, but the second-rounder did notch a game-high 11 assists. Waters also drilled a clutch fourth-quarter three for the second straight game.

Other standouts for the Red Claws included Kaiser Gates (26 points, five rebounds), Jaysean Paige (17 points, eight assists, six rebounds), Yante Maten (17 points, five rebounds), and Bryce Brown (20 points, five rebounds).

Next, the Red Claws will visit the Raptors 905 on Wednesday for a rematch at 7 p.m.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off today at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

There have been strong scoring nights, defensive slugfests and everything in between, for the Boston Celtics who come into today’s game at Sacramento riding a league-best winning streak of 10 in a row. 

And with five straight games out West, the Celtics got things off on the right foot with a 105-100 win at Golden State, the fourth time in the last five years Boston won on the Warriors’ home floor. 

Boston has won its last two games on the Kings’ home floor, and three of the last four. 

Here are five more things you should know about this matchup.

NO FOX HUNTING

The Boston Celtics won’t have to worry about chasing Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox around today after the lightning quick point guard reportedly suffered a Grade-3 ankle sprain (the most severe kind) early last week. The injury is supposed to keep him sidelined for at least a month. Fox is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game this season, along with seven assists and four rebounds which is also a career-best mark for the third-year guard. 

TATUM PART OF EXCLUSIVE CLUB

The scoring by Jayson Tatum this season is a clue as to how much of an impact the third-year forward is making when he’s on the court.

This season, the Celtics have a plus/minus of +134 when Tatum is in the game. How big a deal is that? There are only three players whose plus/minus thus far this season exceeds 100. There’s LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Tatum. That’s it. And of the trio, the plus/minus leader is Tatum followed by James (+109) and Antetokounmpo (+107).

Sacramento’s leader is Richaun Holmes (+31).

TRIPLE THREAT

Prepare to see lot of 3-pointers go down tonight for both Boston and Sacramento. Each team has weaponized the 3-point shot as a key to their offensive strategy this season. The Kings come into today’s game averaging 13.3 made 3-pointers per game which ranks sixth in the NBA. Right behind them at No. 7 is the Boston Celtics who are averaging 13.0 made 3-pointers per game this season.

Leading the 3-point barrage for the Kings is Buddy Hield, one of the league’s top 3-point shooters. He’s averaging 3.6 made 3-pointers per game this season which is good for the No. 4 spot in the NBA. Right ahead of him at No. 3 is Boston’s Kemba Walker who is connecting on 4.3 made 3-pointers per game. 

KINGS GET CROWNED DOWN THE STRETCH

If the Celtics find themselves trailing in the early stages of today’s game, it probably will have more to do with the Kings than anything the Celtics are doing. Several factors have contributed to Sacramento’s 4-7 start this season, but how they begin games scoring the ball isn’t one of them.

Sacramento is +2.4 points per game after the first quarter of play this season which ranks tied for the fourth-best mark in the NBA this season. However, they are a bottom-10 team when it comes to plus/minus in the fourth quarter (-1.3 points, 21st in the league). Meanwhile, the Celtics’ plus-minus of +4.4 in the fourth is second in the NBA to the Los Angeles Clippers (+5.2). 

PAINT PATROL

Minimizing points in the paint is one of the bigger concerns about the Boston Celtics coming into this season. But to their credit, they have done a solid job of not allowing that to be an issue that gets in the way of winning. Boston is allowing 44.2 points in the paint this season which is the eighth-fewest points in the paint allowed per game this season.

Today the Celtics face a Sacramento team that has struggled in many facets of the game with scoring in the paint being among them. This is evident by Sacramento’s offense generating a league-low 39.8 points in the paint per game. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.