Wednesday means two things: Patriots-Broncos is four days away ... and the Celtics start their regular season (7:30 p.m., CSNNE).
Let’s step away from the gridiron for just a second and focus on some hoops, shall we?
The Celtics won a grand total of 25 games last season, but head coach Brad Stevens and his team hope to surprise those around the NBA who have low expectations for Boston this time around.
So, who can we expect to start Wednesday’s game against the Nets?
The big question is at point guard, where Rajon Rondo appears to be a gametime decision while recovering from a broken left hand. The initial recovery timetable had Rondo returning sometime in mid-to-late November, but Rondo has beaten those estimates.
If he can’t go, it’ll be rookie Marcus Smart, who the Celtics drafted with the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft. Smart earned the potential start over fellow C’s newcomer Evan Turner, who can play both point and shooting guard. Speaking of 2-guards, Avery Bradley comfortably holds down that spot after signing a four-year, $32 million contract over the summer. The C’s love Bradley’s defense, but he’s also improved his scoring numbers in each of his first four seasons, and looks to have an even bigger role in the offense this season.
At small forward, Jeff Green is the guy. Green led the Celtics in overall scoring last season, but has failed to put up big numbers on a consistent basis. He’ll need to be aggressive to stay on the court. If not, look for Turner to eat up some of his minutes. Stevens can’t be married to a particular lineup with so many moving parts and so many hungry, young players.
The power forward and center spots will be a mix-and-match, much like it was last year, but Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger should hold down those positions at the beginning of games, at least. Sullinger’s shooting was the biggest plus this preseason, and Stevens has said that he could be their best offensive player.
As for the rest of the rotation, Turner will be one of the first players off the bench, along with Brandon Bass. Bass could find himself squeezed out of some minutes if Stevens elects to stay young, though. Marcus Thornton, another C’s newcomer, can provide instant offense in the backcourt.
But does this group have enough to sneak into the playoffs? The answers start coming Wednesday night.