The Boston Celtics failed to meet expectations during the 2018-19 campaign and underwent several impactful roster changes as a result, but are experts and fans not giving the 17-time champions enough of a shot to compete in the Eastern Conference this season?
The C's replaced Kyrie Irving with another All-NBA guard in Kemba Walker, who signed a four-year max contract with Boston in free agency. Boston also signed veteran center Enes Kanter and bolstered its depth with what looks like a talented rookie class. These players join an already talented core that includes Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown.
Former NBA head coach and current ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy was a guest of the "Stephen A. Smith Show" on Monday, and he explained why we shouldn't be forgetting about the Celtics with the 2019-20 season set to tip off Tuesday night.
"I think (the Celtics) have the power of togetherness more this year," Van Gundy said. "I think that unity and chemistry will carry over to how they play, how they stick together during periods of adversity. I think people are sleeping on Boston."
Van Gundy is very high on Walker, who he was around over the summer with Team USA.
"I was able to see Kemba Walker up close this summer with the World Cup team, and I'm going to tell you -- obviously everybody knows about his talent, his handles, his scoring ability -- but this is one of the highest quality athletes that we have in any sport," Van Gundy said. "He is going to be a tremendous, quiet leader for this Boston Celtics team. He leads by example doing the right thing everyday."
We'll get an early look at the strength of this new-look C's team right off the bat with Boston taking on the rival Philadelphia 76ers in both teams' season opener Wednesday night.
Walker torched the Sixers last season by averaging 37 points per game over four matchups. The Celtics will need a similarly impressive performance from Walker on Opening Night to continue Boston's dominance over the 76ers in what has become a very one-sided rivalry over the last two seasons.
NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday with "Celtics Pregame Live", and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m.
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