Celtics

Despite injuries, the Celtics' talent cupboard isn't bare

Despite injuries, the Celtics' talent cupboard isn't bare

BOSTON -- Between now and the playoffs, we’re going to hear a lot about what the Boston Celtics are lacking.

And while they are certainly not as deep a team courtesy of injuries, it’s not like the roster has now become this barren wasteland of woeful talent

In fact, Boston’s revamped core group, one without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis who all suffered season-ending injuries, and Marcus Smart whose right thumb injury will keep him out for most of the first-round series, is full of players who came into the league with high expectations due to their lofty draft status.

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Boston’s current starting five consists of three players taken with the No. 3 pick in their respective draft class -- Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

And point guard Terry Rozier was selected with the 16th overall pick, with regulars Marcus Morris and Shane Larkin also being taken in the first round of their respective draft classes.

That’s in part why tonight’s game against Washington is actually an important one for both teams, well aware that there’s a chance they can see each other in the first round of the playoffs, which for the Celtics will begin at the TD Garden next weekend.

“We’re pretty confident,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. That’s why these last games are so important. With us being number one in the league in defense, we can get as far as we want to go. We have to tighten up a couple things on offense and stay together. We already hit adversity at its highest level. We already seen so many things. We’re prepared.”

And to know that the bandwagon is getting lighter as they near the playoffs, it only serves as additional motivation.

“No doubt about it,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “I feel like with this group . . . we’re already fueled, but that gets us going even more.”

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But as you look at Boston’s roster, it’s pretty clear that there’s some decent talent.

"Obviously, we have a lot of star power that’s missing just because of the unfortunate circumstances of injuries,” Larkin told NBC Sports Boston. “But we got a lot of guys who can play here. We have a lot of high draft picks, a lot of first round picks. Danny [Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations] did a great job of putting together a roster for situations like this. You never want to have situations happen with the injuries, but we have a lot of guys in here who can step up and play. That’s what we’ve had to do all season, and we’re going to keep doing it until the wheels fall off.”

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Brian Windhorst believes LeBron James will recruit Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

Brian Windhorst believes LeBron James will recruit Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

If Kyrie Irving leaves the Celtics in free agency after committing to the team before the start of the season, it probably won't sit well with the organization and its fans. If he leaves to go the Lakers, Boston's arch-rival? Oh boy. 

On the Stephen A. Smith show Thursday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said he thinks Kyrie Irving is considering the Lakers as a free agent destination, and that former teammate LeBron James will attempt to recruit him to LA. 

Windhorst also notes that he thinks the Knicks and Nets are higher on Irving's list than the Lakers, but believes their play styles mesh well despite their personality differences. Irving and James won a championship in 2016 by coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Warriors, and made a run of three consecutive Finals appearances. Then Irving requested a trade after the 2016-17 season in an effort to get out from under James' shadow. 

However, less than two weeks ago, Smith claimed he had sources telling him there was, 'No way in hell' Irving would join the Lakers this summer.

The 2018-19 season did not end the way Irving or the Celtics expected it to coming out of training camp, but it doesn't seem like noise suggesting Irving's departure is as ironclad as a public declaration of his intent to re-sign, even if it was eight months ago. 

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"Game of Zones" pokes fun at Celtics' chemistry issues in latest episode

"Game of Zones" pokes fun at Celtics' chemistry issues in latest episode

It's not usually a good thing to be the subject of an episode of Bleacher Report's original series "Game of Zones," and this week the Celtics' chemistry issues were the focus. 

Boston's talent was not the reason they finished fourth in the Eastern Conference or why they were handled in the second round by the Bucks in five games. They could never seem to put it all together on a consistent basis. 

"Game of Zones" makes light of all the problems Brad Stevens faced by having him turn into a White Walker type of being like they've depicted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the past. 

https://www.instagram.com/tv/Bx0betrHD6W/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

In the video you have Danny Ainge lusting over all of his draft picks, Terry Rozier bickering with Marcus Morris about his role, Kyrie Irving acting non-commital and Jayson Tatum hesitating to give up his 'Mamba Mentality."

These episodes have plenty of references from the HBO series "Game of Thrones," so if you're a Thrones fan and a Celtics fan who can look back and laugh at the problems that faced this team, then I'd highly recommend giving the episode a look. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.