Celtics

Jeff Van Gundy thinks people are 'sleeping on' Celtics entering new season

Jeff Van Gundy thinks people are 'sleeping on' Celtics entering new season

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.

Playoff predictions for 2019-20 NBA season>>>

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.

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.

The Enes Kanter Show: What makes Celtics fans, city of Boston unique?

The Enes Kanter Show: What makes Celtics fans, city of Boston unique?

Enes Kanter has played just six games for the Celtics, so the jury is still out on how he fits on the basketball court.

But the city of Boston already seems like a very good fit for the outspoken big man.

On the second episode of NBC Sports Boston's "The Enes Kanter Show," Kanter admitted to co-host Chris Forsberg he's already noticed a difference between Boston fans and the fans of other teams he's played for.

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"The one thing I love about Boston is, it's a very educational, very influential town," Kanter said.

"Whichever city I play for, people used to run at me and say, 'Good game last night, good double-double, good this, good that.' But now people are coming up to me and saying, 'Hey, I read your op-ed last night, it was amazing.'

"They're like, 'What you're doing is so brave, keep doing what you're doing.' And I'm like, 'Wow, they don't talk about just basketball. They talk about what's going on off the court too.' That really touched my heart, for sure."

Kanter has been an active critic of the Turkish government under president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and has written op-eds in both The Boston Globe and the Washington Post since coming to Boston this offseason.

The 27-year-old also has met with several local politicians, including Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, to help him exercise his right to free speech in the face of pressure from Erdoğan.

Kanter's activism hasn't gone unnoticed in Boston, where fans are as liable to compliment him for his off-court work as they are for him helping the Celtics win.

Check out the full episode above or in the YouTube player below.

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.

The Enes Kanter Show: Friendship with Gordon Hayward, Celtics' leadership dynamic

The Enes Kanter Show: Friendship with Gordon Hayward, Celtics' leadership dynamic

In the second episode of "The Enes Kanter Show," Chris Forsberg and Enes Kanter discuss the Celtics' west coast trip and his friendship with Gordon Hayward and get a guest appearance from Tacko Fall, who calls into the show from Maine.

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2:23 - Enes talks about navigating his busy life and using his platform for good

5:25 - What's Kanter's favorite city to play in on the road?

7:15 - First impressions of Boston

10:54 - Why playing for a winning team was so important to him and Kemba Walker

12:27 - His friendship with Gordon Hayward

13:45 - Enes explains why he hated facing Marcus Smart and the type of player that he is

14:53 - The leadership dynamic of the team this season

15:30 - Does Enes want to prove everyone wrong about his defense?

20:30 - Enes calls friend and teammate Tacko Fall to discuss Maine, the cold weather, getting a haircut from Enes and how he's handling the spotlight

You can also watch the entire episode on YouTube:

 

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.