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The Celtics’ Irish Luck

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Over the summer, the Boston Celtics were among the busiest teams in the NBA offseason, trading for 4-time All-Star and NBA champion point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers and signing the All-Star Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward. They were among the best teams in the league on paper, but still falling below the Cavs and Golden State Warriors in preseason power rankings. Just minutes into his first game as a Celtic, Gordon Hayward suffered a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle in his left leg. They ended up losing to the Cavs on opening night, and the outcome for the Celtics season looked bleak.

Just a month and a half later, the Boston Celtics boast the NBA’s best record at 17-4, and stand atop NBA.com’s Power Rankings. In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics traded down to the third pick of the draft and selected Jayson Tatum. In Hayward’s absence, Tatum has been the most productive rookie of his draft class, averaging 13.7 PPG and shooting nearly 50% from the field (49.3% FG). Jaylen Brown, the third pick of last year’s NBA draft, has also shined in the starting lineup for the new look Celtics. He has averaged 15 PPG and 6.1 RBG. These two Celtics went from role players to effective starters in an incredibly short span of time. The future is bright for these two young stars; Tatum is just 19 years old and Brown is 21. These two young guards will only get better playing along their new star point guard, Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has had no problem adjusting to his new team, averaging 23.4 PPG and 5.2 APG. Irving, once a superstar in Cleveland alongside LeBron James, became the centerpiece for a new younger Celtics team.

The Celtics rose to the top of the NBA with an impressive 16-game win streak, which was eventually broken by a close loss to the Heat in Miami. During the Celtics’ electrifying run, they beat playoff-caliber teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Toronto Raptors, and the Golden State Warriors. Their ability to close out games came with their defense; the Celtics claim an NBA-low 96.8 average points allowed to opponents per game.

Last year, the Isaiah Thomas-led Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 5 games despite being the number one seed in the conference. The NBA Finals has been Cavaliers-Warriors the last three years, and many believe that though the Celtics have had a great start, they will still eventually fall to King James and the Cavs. Though the Cavs had a slow start to this season, they’ve won tenin a row to fall just three and a half games behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Isaiah Thomas will suit up for the Cavaliers in just a few weeks when he finishes recovering from a hip injury, and players like Kevin Love and J.R. Smith are having productive seasons. The Celtics pose a real threat to the Cavs as the best team the East, but the Celtics will need the continued production of the younger players on the team. Statistically, LeBron James is one of the best playoff performers in the history of the NBA, and he has been to 8 NBA Finals in his career. To say the least, a Celtics-Cavs Eastern Conference Finals Series would be an exceptional matchup.

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