It’s always really sad to watch any player fall down with a potentially career-ending injury, especially if we’re talking about a guy like Gordon Hayward, who’s always stayed classy and was just about to have what could’ve been his best year as a pro so far.
Just over 5 minutes into the new NBA season, Hayward fell awkwardly on a failed alley-oop attempt and everybody instantly knew his campaign was already over, having to be carted off on a stretcher and being clearly in a lot of physical and emotional pain.
Needless to say, the Celtics squad was obviously affected after seeing their teammate in so much pain, and even though Boston fought hard to make a comeback after the Cavs opened up a big lead, they wind up falling short of their first W of the season.
Still, the Celtics showed a lot of good stuff during this Hayward-less run, and even though Gordon’s loss is going to need a lot of adjustments to overcome, we’re going to tell you why the Boston Celtics are still going to be the Eastern Conference’s number one seed this season.
As simple as that: The Boston Celtics have the biggest motivation in the Association right now, being the winningest franchise in NBA history and not reaching the NBA Finals for a while now while LeBron James continues to prove his dominance in the Eastern Conference, something they’re desperate to end as soon as possible.
Besides, Gordon Hayward’s injury has to be a huge emotional plus for a team whose core seemed to be so united and that now will try their best and ball their hearts out to win for his fallen teammate.
4. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
Jayson Tatum was really exposed on defense during his NBA debut but also proved that the hype that surrounded him wasn’t overdue, impressing a lot with his NBA ready offensive repertoire and scoring in a huge variety of ways.
Besides, Jaylen Brown was already surging as one of the league’s elite youngsters during the prior campaign, and now that he’ll have a lot of minutes and the obligation to step up, this committee will definitely bring a lot of joy to Boston fans for the foreseeable future, and their development will have to be faster than expected, so the injury may be a blessing in disguise.
3. Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens has quietly surged as a yearly frontrunner to win the Coach of the Year award or at least make the shortlist, making the Celtics contend in the Eastern Conference with a constantly shifting roster that didn’t seem good enough to even make the playoffs a couple of seasons ago.
Stevens has blossomed as the best coach in the Eastern Conference right now and he proved to be a master of adjustments during the opening night’s second half, climbing over a 15+ point deficit to make it a one-possession game by the last minute of the matchup.
2. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving reportedly demanded a trade out of the Cleveland Cavaliers because he was keen and poised to be “the man”, the franchise player and the team’s primary scorer and ball handler, something that he wouldn’t be able to achieve with LeBron James playing beside him.
So, even though Kyrie agreed to go to a place where he’d have to share the spotlight with Hayward, he’s going to have his wish granted, and we all know that he ain’t afraid to take matters into his own hands and go big when his team needs him the most.
1. Cleveland won’t be that good
The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be the most stacked team in the NBA besides the Golden State Warriors, but even though they have a lot of depth, most of their new signings are extremely injury prone and they’re going to have a really tough time staying healthy throughout the full campaign.
Neither Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose or Dwyane Wade will be able to keep up the pace of an 82 game season at this stage of his career and a 33-year-old LeBron James won’t be able to carry them on their own throughout the year, leaving the path open for the best team in the East (Boston) to lead the way all season.