The shorthanded Boston Celtics came just one win away from the NBA Finals last season.
Playing without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, coach Brad Stevens got the most out of his gritty roster and took LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite the loss, the Celtics look like they’re going to be the team to beat in the East this season.
Not only will Irving and Hayward presumably be healthy to start the year, but perhaps most importantly, LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker and therefore in the Western Conference. He helped the Miami Heat and then the Cavaliers win the East for eight-consecutive seasons and was singlehandedly a major roadblock for Boston in recent years.
Not only will the health of Irving and Hayward benefit the Celtics, but All-Star Al Horford will be back, along with veterans Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. The young core of Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele will be a year further in their development. Daniel Theis, who missed the end of last season with a knee injury, should also be back.
In all, Boston arguably has the deepest roster in the entire NBA. Therefore, there's already a lot of hype surrounding the team.
Brown recently made an appearance on CJ McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast and delivered quite the prediction about the upcoming season.
An ambitious prediction
"Oh, we're getting to the Finals. No question about it," Brown said.
"I hate how everybody is like, 'Oh, LeBron's gone in the East,'" Brown added. "I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, 'Man, he's not beating us again.’"
Therefore, Brown’s prediction apparently has nothing to do with LeBron’s decision to leave the Eastern Conference. But, despite Brown’s high hopes, he understands that the team has to remain humble and take things one game at a time.
"It's important for us to stay grounded and just continue to play ball. Continue to play the way we played this past season," Brown said.
Brown took a step forward last season, averaging 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per contest. He was also particularly effective from beyond the three-point line, shooting 39.5 percent from deep. Therefore, the 21 year old will look to continue his ascension this year.
Brown added, ”We got like a lot of -- we got a lot, a lot of talent on this team. And we've got some real good mindsets, and it's a pleasure playing with them all. But we have to be on one page if we want to be successful.”
Although anything can happen during an 82-game regular season and health is not guaranteed in any way (as seen last year), it appears as though the Celtics are in store for a wildly-successful campaign (at least on paper).