Celtics

Five bold NBA predictions for the 2019-20 NBA season

Five bold NBA predictions for the 2019-20 NBA season

BOSTON -- With the Golden State dynasty a thing of the past now (we think) and with the newly-crowned NBA champion Toronto Raptors already poised to look like the Raptors of old (we know), there’s a lot of fluidity and uncertainty about this upcoming NBA season. 

Predictions about who will be the league’s MVP or Most Improved or Coach of the Year, run the gamut right now. 

But in reality, it’s the prop bet-like predictions that we wanna talk about and hear about, right? 

And those fall under the umbrella of bold predictions, something we are going to take a dive into right now with five can’t miss (we think) predictions that are going to be talked about, and/or debated, and/or picked apart this season (we know). 

Here are five bold NBA predictions for the upcoming season. 

BEN SIMMONS WILL MAKE A 3-POINTER … IN AN NBA GAME … SERIOUSLY

The time has come for Ben Simmons to do the unthinkable … make a 3-pointer. And no, we’re not talking about draining them in practice. Those don’t count. And draining one in a preseason game in a blowout win over a team from the Chinese Basketball Association? Nope. That doesn’t count, either. Simmons’ struggles shooting the ball has been well-documented. The lack of perimeter touch stands out in what is an otherwise extremely talented, well-balanced basketball game. Just as him making a 3-pointer in a preseason game sent tremors across the basketball landscape, him making one in an actual game after missing all 17 of his attempts thus far? The internet ain’t ready for that!

TORONTO WILL TRADE KYLE LOWRY

The initial thought was when the Raptors signed Kyle Lowry to a one-year, $31 million extension, it was to provide a little more security for the veteran guard. But the truth is, the deal only makes a more attractive trade chip for a title contender this season. Before the deal, Lowry was set to hit free agency in the summer of 2020. Knowing that, teams weren’t going to give the Raptors too much for an expiring contract. But the one-year extension means any deal for Lowry would likely return a pretty sizable haul in terms of talent and at least one potential draft pick, versus losing him for nothing next summer. A lot will depend on how the Raptors start the season, obviously. If they struggle as much as most anticipate, that’ll only ratchet up the likelihood that he’s moved on to a contending team that feels they are a veteran point guard away from competing for a title this spring. 

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS WILL ADVANCE TO THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

As much as the Warriors demise seems inevitable, the cupboard isn’t nearly as bare as some might think following Kevin Durant’s departure to Brooklyn. They still have Stephen Curry, one of the all-time great shooters in NBA history. Draymond Green is back, and continues to be the do-it-all baller that has consistently stepped up when needed in the postseason. Klay Thompson won’t be back until sometime in March from an ACL injury suffered in the playoffs last season, which will give him a month or so to get himself back in basketball shape for the playoffs. And let’s not forget about D’Angelo Russell, an all-star in Brooklyn last season who, along with Thompson’s return, gives the Warriors a quartet of high-impact performers heading into the postseason at a time when most of the elite teams out West are going to battle with talented tandems. This is by no means the Warriors team we’ve seen steamroll over foes in the past, but they still have quality talent that more likely than not, will be peaking when it matters most. 

NEW YORK WILL … NOT BE THE WORST TEAM IN THE NBA THIS SEASON

I know, missing out on the big names last summer while coming off of a 17-win campaign, doesn’t exactly sound like a team headed in the right direction. But as bad as the Knicks may be this season, there’s no question the Cleveland Cavaliers will be worse. The Celtics left the bulk of their rotation home, went on the road and faced a Cleveland team that suited up Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson … and beat the snot about Cleveland. And mind you, if Boston’s backups - most rookies mind you - could do that, how bad will it be when teams use their regular starters? So all the jokes about how bad the Knicks will be, yes, they’ll continue to flow in for sure. But hey, Knicks fans can point to one silver lining. As bad as it is for them, it’s gonna be a lot worse for the Cavs. 

BRAD STEVENS WILL BE NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR

For years, he has been talked about as one of the better coaches in the NBA. But most recently, NBA.com’s GM survey painted a very different picture with not a single GM voting Stevens as “best coach” despite the fact that a year ago 47 percent of them felt he was that guy. As much as this season is one of redemption for the Celtics players and organization, Stevens also has a lot to prove. He is in familiar territory with a roster that’s good, but not a title-contender; on paper at least. This team will play harder, more consistently than they did a year ago in part because of Kyrie Irving’s departure but also because these players more resemble the players that Stevens has been at his best with, in the past. And that’ll result in this team winning as many or more games than they did a year ago and in many ways, exceed expectations - a key ingredient for any coach on the cusp of winning the league’s Coach of the Year award.

Handicapping the NBA's Eastern Conference>>>

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Celtics' Marcus Smart (ankle) probable for Wednesday game vs. Clippers

Celtics' Marcus Smart (ankle) probable for Wednesday game vs. Clippers

Marcus Smart is listed as probable for the Celtics' Wednesday night game in against the Clippers in Los Angeles after the guard had to leave the Monday night win in Phoenix with a scary-looking ankle sprain. 

Smart vowed after the game Monday that he would play against the Clippers even after being helped off the court when he was injured in the fourth quarter.

Smart appeared to be moving well on the ankle Tuesday, according to Celtics.com's Marc D'Amico.

Gordon Hayward, recovering from the fractured bone in his hand and expected back around Christmas, is out for the Celtics. 

The Celtics (11-2) sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Following an opening night loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston won its next 10 before losing to the Sacramento Kings by one point on Sunday and bounced back with the 99-85 victory in Phoenix on Monday night. 

They'll take on the Clippers on Wednesday and Denver Nuggets on Friday to complete their Western trip before returning home to face the Kings and Brooklyn Nets next week. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.  

 

Shoulder injury casts doubt on Kyrie Irving playing against Celtics next week

Shoulder injury casts doubt on Kyrie Irving playing against Celtics next week

Brooklyn Nets point guard, and former Celtic, Kyrie Irving may not play against Boston next week -- shocker, right?

The 27-year-old already has been ruled out for the Nets matchup Wednesday with the Charlotte Hornets with a shoulder impingement. It'll be the third game in a row he's missed and the Nets are 1-1 without him. 

Irving has only eight days to recover from the injury before a highly-anticipated return to TD Garden on Thanksgiving Eve. If he misses the remainder of the Nets' games this week, it's more than likely he won't play in Boston -- especially considering he'll be in for a rather unfriendly reception from C's fans.

He certainly didn't leave Boston on a high note after first committing to re-sign with the Celtics, then backing off that in what became a disappointing season where his leadership was questioned and he had well-publicized differences with his younger teammates. That led to his eventual free-agent departure to Brooklyn to join his friend Kevin Durant, who is out for the season after tearing his Achilles in the NBA Finals with Golden State. It appears there are leadership questions in Brooklyn, too, after reports of his "mood swings" irritating Nets' officials. 

Nonetheless, through 11 games, Irving is averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists. If he does end up playing against the Celtics, his reception, and how he performs against his old teammates, will be interesting to watch. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.