NBA history suggests Celtics' start is great omen for 2019-20 playoffs

NBA history suggests Celtics' start is great omen for 2019-20 playoffs

The Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 9-1 after Wednesday night's win over the Washington Wizards, and if history is any indication, the C's hot start is a good omen for their playoff hopes next spring.

The Celtics have won nine of their first 10 games for the first time since 2007-08, and we all know what happened that season. In fact, the C's had won nine or all of their first 10 games of a season five times before the current 2019-20 campaign, and in three of those seasons they advanced to the NBA Finals.

Here's a breakdown:

1972-73: 10-0, lost to New York Knicks in ECF
2019-20: 9-1, playoff result TBD
2007-08: 9-1, beat Los Angeles Lakers in NBA Finals
1984-85: 9-1, lost to Los Angeles Lakers in NBA Finals
1983-84: 9-1, beat Los Angeles Lakers in NBA Finals
1981-82: 9-1, lost to Philadelphia 76ers in ECF

For what it's worth, both 2019 NBA Finals participants (Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors) started 9-1 last season.

You'll notice a couple Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals matchups in the list above, and while it's still very early in the season, could we be headed for another championship series between these historic rivals? Check out this stat:

The Celtics' schedule is about to get tougher. They start a five-game road trip Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, and the last three teams on the trip -- the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets -- all have winning records. If the Celtics are able to go 3-2 or 4-1 on this road trip, it definitely will be time to rank them among the early title contenders.

Blakely: Bittersweet return for Isaiah Thomas vs. former teammates>>>

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Exactly one month after breaking his hand against the Spurs, Gordon Hayward could make his return to the Celtics lineup Monday night when the C's wrap up a three-game homestand against the Cavaliers. 

Hayward had surgery exactly four weeks ago, and after the procedure, his announced timetable was "up to six weeks," so a potential return to the lineup Monday would be a best-case scenario for the C's.

Boston has fared well in Hayward's absence, going 9-4 in 13 games (after going 7-1 in eight games with Hayward). Other players have stepped up with Hayward out, with Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum all averaging at least 20 points per game this season.

While Hayward might return, Marcus Smart is dealing with yet another health setback, as he's doubtful to play thanks to an eye infection. Robert Williams has already been ruled out with a sore left hip.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7:30 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app. 


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BEFORE THE GAME: At 7 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Brian ScalabrineMike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

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Celtics vs. Cavs odds: Best NBA picks, predictions as Gordon Hayward eyes return

Celtics vs. Cavs odds: Best NBA picks, predictions as Gordon Hayward eyes return

The Boston Celtics' Christmas present apparently will be delivered early.

Gordon Hayward participated in a shootaround Monday morning and is on track to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers, per the team.

Hayward was expected to be sidelined until Christmas with a fractured hand but is well ahead of schedule, and should give an added boost to a Celtics team that's won five of its last six games.

Can the Celtics keep it rolling against the free-falling Cavs and cover their largest spread of the season? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Cavs, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Moneyline: The Celtics (-1600) are massive favorites, and with good reason. The Cavs have lost 12 of their last 13 and are in full-on tank mode after a 47-point defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers. No reason to get cute here.

Point Spread: Am I wary of the Celtics being double-digit favorites after all the times they've played down to their competition this season? Yes. But the Cavs have completely mailed it in and are 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 games. Hayward's return inspires a Celtics (-14) rout.

Point Total: Boston should light up a Cleveland defense that just allowed 141 points to the Philadelphia 76ers. The question is whether the Cavs can hold up their end of the bargain. Considering the over has hit in four of these teams' last five matchups and Marcus Smart (eye infection) may not play, I'll take the OVER on the 216 total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 30-20-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Orlando Magic (+11.5) at Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have won 14 in a row, but they're a pedestrian 12-11 against the spread this season. The Magic have won four in a row and are 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games, so I like them keeping this one in single digits.

Los Angeles Clippers (+2) at Indiana PacersKawhi Leonard won't play in this one and the Clippers have struggled on the road (4-6), but I don't trust a Pacers team that barely beat the New York Knicks and lost to the Detroit Pistons last Friday.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 18-15-1