NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30pm Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30pm.
BOSTON -- When you look at the Boston Celtics roster this season, there’s a clear distinction between who constitutes their core and those on the outside, looking in.
Because of that, it makes for some pretty predictable outcomes this season.
Gordon Hayward being better than he was a year ago is about a luke-warm a hot take as you’ll find out there when it comes to this upcoming season.
Boston rotating its centers?
Warmer, but definitely not bringing the heat!
Here are five bold Celtics predictions that are more in the bucket of long-shots, than being near-locks to happen this season.
THE CELTICS WILL LEAD THE NBA IN SCORING THIS SEASON
The concerns about Boston’s defense are legit, with everyone in the league knowing it is the one area teams more likely than not, will try and exploit consistently. The best way to counter a shaky defense, is with a prolific scoring attack. And the Celtics have lots of weapons with the capability of doing just that. Kemba Walker is the most proven scorer on the squad, but we all know that Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown can put up big numbers on any given night as well. And when you add Carsen Edwards to the mix, Boston has the kind of offensive firepower than when all is said and done, they should be averaging more points per game than any team in the NBA.
SPEAKING OF EDWARDS …
Second-round picks are supposed to be happy just making an NBA roster. But it’s clear that Carsen Edwards is about more than that, which is why he will be named to the NBA’s all-rookie team. Edwards has shown in summer league and more recently in the preseason that he has elite-level shooting range and accuracy. In a blowout win over Cleveland, Edwards had eight made 3-pointers … In five minutes? You don’t want to get into too many comparisons, but it’s a very, very short list of players who have played in the NBA that have that kind of instant offensive potential. There will be other rookies who will play more, for sure. But the numbers he’s likely to register in a limited amount of time, will be huge for the Celtics’ success and secure a spot for him among the league’s top first-year players.
MARCUS SMART WILL BE TOP-3 FINISHER IN SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR RACE
The Sixth Man of the Year award usually goes to the player coming off the bench who scores a ton of points or grabs a bunch of boards, in limited minutes. But Smart is about to change the game up this year.
He’ll average at least 11 points per game (his career-high is 10.6, in 2017) this year, and do so shooting better than 45 percent from the field and improve upon the 36.4 percent he shot from 3-point range last season, both of which will be career highs as well. But he’ll do that while still maintaining his status as one of the best defenders - not just perimeter defenders, but overall defenders - in the NBA. And he’ll do this primarily coming off the bench while delivering the kind of two-way play that will be huge in Boston’s quest to remain among the front-runners in the East. And his efforts at impacting the game at both ends of the floor in a reserve role, will be recognized with him being among the top-3 finishers in the Sixth Man of the Year race.
JAYSON TATUM - NOT KEMBA WALKER OR GORDON HAYWARD - WILL BE BOSTON’S TOP SCORER
Preseason stats don’t hold a ton of weight when the regular season begins. But the presence and way about producing those points, does matter. That’s why Jayson Tatum will be the Celtics’ top scorer this season. We know about his dribble-drive game, the 3-pointer and lately, a greater desire to get to the rim and finish. But what sets Tatum apart from Walker and Hayward, is his rebounding and defense. A good chunk of Boston’s transition attack will be initiated by Tatum grabbing a rebound and just taking off where he’ll look more times than not, to score because more times than not, he has the biggest mismatch in transition. Tatum also has great length which allows him to get into passing lanes for deflections and steals which he can subsequently turn into easy lay-ups or dunks. Boston should have an explosive offense, with Tatums’ two-way play being key.
KYRIE IRVING WON’T PLAY IN THE TD GARDEN THIS SEASON
We can tuck this one in the “I hope I’m wrong about this one” file, but I don’t think I am. Looking at the two dates in which Irving’s Brooklyn Nets are going to be in Boston, there’s a plausible out for Irving in both games. They are scheduled to play on Nov. 27 at the TD Garden, but the game on the 27th will be Brooklyn’s fourth game in six nights. No one should be surprised if the game on the 27th is “load management” night for Irving and he sits this one out. And with the Celtics traveling to Brooklyn to play two nights later, Irving not making the trip to Boston should not be a shocker either. The Nets don’t come back to Boston until March 3, a game that caps off a four games-in-seven-nights stretch for Brooklyn. But it’s also the front end of a back-to-back which gives the Nets a couple different ways to spin him going all season without a return trip to Boston.
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