With NBA preseason action officially underway, basketball fanatics everywhere finally have an excuse to tune out everything else from jobs to other sports to personal relationships.
After almost a complete remodel of the Boston Celtics roster, their preseason performance is as important as ever to gain experience for the upcoming season as well as discover any hidden strengths or weaknesses that could come up throughout the year.
Lets take a look at specific factors you need to pay attention to during the four-game run:
Starting lineups and how effective each one is
It’s still a toss-up with what starting five head coach Brad Stevens chooses to run over the course of the season. My personal prediction of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and Al Horford would be great with putting up points and creating defensive nightmares for the other team, however it would sacrifice any hopes of controlling the boards and would allow Boston to get bullied in the paint. If there’s anything I can guarantee about these upcoming bouts, it would be there is never a set group of starters, and you can expect to see differing combinations.
Chemistry between the stars and bench players alike
Everybody is anxious to view the new trio of Hayward, Irving, Horford, and if they will be able to perform highly together off the bat. If not, then the question of when they can will remain standing. Something commonly lost among headlines is that the second and third units have little to no experience together as well, and sometimes those players can be just as important in determining outcomes. Obviously, mistakes will happen as they do with any team no matter how many playing years together there are to account for. On the other hand, you should be wary to shrug off any common miscues as that could symbolize severe issues for weeks to come.
The young guys (and not just in Boston!)
Excitement is high to see the 2017 third overall pick Jayson Tatum in an official Boston jersey for the first time and under some larger lights than that of the summer league. 20-year-old Jaylen Brown will also be one of the most interesting players to keep an eye on to see whether or not he will earn starting responsibilities. Similarly to above, don’t forget to also watch for some of the young prospects who don’t generally get as much attention. Players such as Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, and others should eventually become valuable role players, if not better.
Besides the young bloods for Boston, keep in mind that they gave up the number one overall pick in this year’s draft – a pick which could have afforded them one of the highest rated players in a while, Markelle Fultz. Fultz will have an opportunity to show what could have been against the Celtics on Oct. 6 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, as well as Oct. 9 at TD Garden in Boston.
In addition to these two affairs, the 17-time champions will kick off their preseason Oct. 2 at home against the Charlotte Hornets, and will close it out in Charlotte on Oct. 11.