We are still a month away from the season resuming in late July. The redefined 8-game NBA schedule has been released. All the teams involved are already in the playoffs, with the Celtics schedule looking favorable. These next 8 games played before the postseason will define how it will go for the C’s moving forward. Especially since they will only be playing two teams in the Western conference.
The obvious toughest opponent on their schedule is the Milwaukee Bucks. However, after them the Celtics will have 7 games of non title contenders to play in Orlando. After Milwaukee, they face Portland, Miami, Brooklyn, Toronto, Orlando, Memphis and Washington. With 6.5 games behind the first seed, it's unlikely the Celtics will move to the top. On the other side, they can gain momentum with a winning streak before the postseason arrives. Perhaps even move to the second seed and face an easier team in the first round.
The team ahead on the standings list is Toronto. While few expect the Raptors to make it to the finals, they are still an impressive team. Although, with the Celtics facing them during this final stretch it could make things interesting. Toronto has a significantly harder schedule, facing 4-5 championship contender teams. And as impressive as they are, they may struggle to reach .500.
Next on the list is a variety of Eastern teams who come from a weak conference with major injuries. The Celtics will face a Brooklyn Nets club without superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Then they will face a Washington Wizards team who hasn’t their key player John Wall for months. Giannis Antetokounmpo also suffered a knee sprain before the season was put on halt. Orlando has a young but inexperienced and limited offense with low guard play. Memphis, Portland, and Miami or formidable opponents, but don’t compare to the amount of talent Boston has.
Speaking of skill in Boston, we can’t forget the amount of layoff and how it will effect this team. The Celtics have the right group of young guys and veterans. Nobody on the team has opted out of playing in Orlando and this ball club is all in.
Guys like Tatum, Brown, and Smart will be the energy needed down the stretch of the regular season. While veterans such as Walker, Hayward, and Kanter should be ready to go with the added rest. The Celtics are the healthiest in their conference with all of their star players healthy. Especially being as deep as they are.
From the outside looking in the stars seem to be aligning for Coach Stevens’ team. With an easier NBA schedule and a healthy team, things look bright. The only concern may come from the lack of size in the front court. I believe that issue will arise in the postseason more than this 8 game span that lies ahead. The time is now for Boston to capitalize in the east.
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