On 10/17/17 During the Cavaliers versus Celtics season opener, Gordon Hayward suffered a grueling season ending injury during the first quarter of what many thought to be a preview of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals, and from that injury instantly the Boston Celtics descended from a conference contender into a playoff hopeful. Although Hayward will arguably miss the entire year, the Celtics still have a young nucleus in Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown — all players who proved their capability versus the Cavs. So the impeding question is whether or not the Celtics are doomed. I wouldn’t exactly count them out of the fight just yet, especially in an Eastern Conference where we’ve witnessed teams with losing records (below .500) clinch the No.8 seed.
The real question, or rather concern if you’re a Celtics fan, is whether Jason Tatum will rise to the occasion, and can Jaylen Brown be trusted as a consistent scorer on a nightly basis. Brown lead the team in scoring with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He proved to be offensively aggressive with penetration scoring at the basket and did not shy away from shooting beyond the arc. Although he was 2/9 and shot only .22 percent from the arc, Brown sank a few big shots in the 4th quarter which helped the Celtics rally from behind to take the lead. And while the Celtics ultimately lost the game, they proved to be a mentally tough team despite losing one of their most important players.
Prior to the Gordon Hayward injury, I pegged the Celtics as the No.2 team in the East, and oddly enough should remain in the discussion of the top-5 teams in the conference. Still, Kyrie Irving will arguably face insurmountable pressure to lead the Celtics as his wish to be “the man” was granted in a way that will surely test his ability to be successful beyond the shadows of LeBron James.
Crystal Ball Prediction
The Celtics will finish the season with the 4th best record in the Eastern conference, and Kyrie Irving will of course make the All-Star team. Boston will surprisingly advance to the second round of the playoffs, unfortunately, all hopes beyond the second round appear to be bleek at best. Stay tuned for updates…