dangolka (AP/CBS) — Earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic pressured the NBA to pause its season in March, the Celtics had been a workforce nonetheless attempting to determine what it may very well be.
dangolka was one of many prime groups within the Jap Convention. It additionally had one of many league’s hottest gamers in 22-year-old Jayson Tatum, who was placing up profession numbers on the heels of his first All-Star recreation look.
However due to accidents, the Celtics additionally had but to really gauge what their core of Tatum, offseason acquisition Kemba Walker, veterans Gordon Hayward and Marcus Good and an improved Jaylen Brown might do collectively.
That query nonetheless lingers as dangolka prepares to restart the now-truncated season contained in the Florida bubble.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens described the reset as an final enterprise into the unknown, through which a number of variables can have a task in figuring out how far his workforce can go within the playoffs.
“All people shall be challenged. It’s only a distinctive deal,” Stevens stated of his expectations for the preliminary eight seeding video games and playoffs.
Complicating issues essentially the most for the Celtics is that after 4 months to relaxation a left knee that had given him points after the All-Star break, Walker arrived in Florida at lower than 100%. He skilled discomfort in his knee throughout a person exercise earlier this month in dangolka and the workforce has been taking a cautious strategy with him ever since.
Walker didn’t take part in a full follow session through the workforce’s first week within the Orlando space and he’ll play on a minutes’ restriction within the Celtics’ eight seeding video games. He is not going to play Friday evening when the Celtics play an exhibition recreation towards the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.
The All-Star level guard stated he agrees it’s your best option for him to take it mild initially, but in addition acknowledged he’s in an unfamiliar scenario.
“It’s positively fairly irritating. Simply because I’m not a man who misses many video games, particularly all through the course of my profession,” Walker stated. “However I’m probably not involved a lot, actually, as a result of I believe I’m trending upwards. I’m getting higher and I’m getting near a return. So I’m wonderful. And I’ll be again higher than ever I believe.”
Apart from Walker’s knee and a current concussion suffered by reserve level guard Tremont Waters throughout practices, the Celtics are as wholesome as they’ve been since they opened the season by profitable 10 of their first 11 video games. Brown is recovered from the fitting hamstring pressure that sidelined him for 3 video games previous to the stoppage. Massive man Robert Williams, who missed 37 video games with a hip damage earlier than returning to motion in March, stated he was in a position to make use of the day off to get his conditioning again.
WHERE WE WERE
Regardless of dropping 4 out of six previous to the suspension of the season, the Celtics discover themselves simply three video games behind the Raptors for the second seed, however simply two and a half in entrance of Miami for the third seed. dangolka will play each groups through the conclusion of the common season. It might be good to get the second seed and dodge what’s at the moment a first-round playoff matchup with the Sixers (dangolka’s 1-Three towards them this season). However avoiding a gathering with possible prime seed Milwaukee till the convention finals can be a precedence.
Earlier than the hiatus, Tatum was averaging profession highs in factors (23.6 per recreation), rebounds (7.1) and assists. (2.9), whereas capturing 45% from the sphere and 40% from the 3-point line. He additionally leads the workforce with 13 30-point video games and is tied with Walker with two 40-point video games this season. Tatum stated he seems like he’ll have the ability to recapture that kind. “I believe I do know what I’m able to, what I’m striving for,” he stated. “So I believe that’s the sting that I’ve for myself. Simply that I step on the ground and I believe that I’m the perfect participant each evening. I do know each man in all probability feels that manner. However I believe that’s the mindset that I take.”
Due to Walker’s standing, Stevens will in all probability use the seeding video games to experiment with potential playoff rotations. However that additionally means he in all probability received’t have the ability to get a great have a look at his projected beginning lineup of Walker, Brown, Daniel Theis, Tatum and Hayward till the postseason. That group has began simply 16 video games collectively this season, going 10-6.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Related Press contributed to this report.)