The Boston Celtics prepare to play their first meaningful game since their defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals, as the team re-tooled their roster in hopes of making successful run at an 18th NBA title. Boston's season starts out in grand fashion as defending NBA champion Miami Heat play host in a rematch of last season's seven-game series and continues with less contentious match-ups, but challenging nonetheless.
Boston has made several changes to their roster, all intended to add talent and depth to an aging roster. With their most versatile roster in decades, the Celtics are better suited to face the varying looks their opponents can throw at them. In seasons past where young and athletic opponents would give the Celtics troubles, the team is built to play a variety of lineup options to counter most of what they will experience.
Here is a look ahead to the first week of completion for the Celtics, one filled with plenty of drama to excite NBA fanss.
October 30 @ Miami
The defending champion Miami Heat open the season as hosts to the team they vanquished on the way to their NBA title. Boston and Miami are familiar foes and both were active in the off-season, adding depth to their respective lineups. While the Celtics added versatility and talent depth to their roster, the Heat did so as well, bringing in former Celtic guard Ray Allen along with Rashard Lewis to add firepower to their reserve unit.
With the banner raising and ring ceremony as part of opening night festivities, there will be plenty of pomp and circumstances that can serve as a distraction for Miami against a team that focused on exacting some revenge. Look for the Heat to push the tempo early but experience first hand how deep and versatile the Celtics' roster is. With more capable bodies to defend Wade, Bosh and James than they had last season, the Celtics will throw a variety of different combinaitons at the Heat. Boston will use the departure of Ray Allen as additional motivation entering the contest but should be wary not to focus too much on their former teammate, leaving open driving lanes for Wade and James. If the Celtics can manage their emotions and focus on a solid team effort, they should be able to pull out a narrow road victory.
Final Score: Boston Celtics 97 - Miami Heat 91
November 2 vs. Milwaukee
Coming off their opening night victory, the Celtics will feed off the same passionate home fans that cheered the team in the closing minutes of Game 6 blowout loss to the Heat last season. The Celtics will face a Milwaukee team that boasts a potent backcourt tandem of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Another newcomer who may have an impact for the Bucks is center Samuel Dalembert, who brings athleticism but inconsistency in the middle. The Bucks have talent but not nearly enough to counter what the Celtics have to offer. The pride and passion of the home crowd will serve as fuel to the competitive fires that burn within Garnett and Pierce; with the new supporting cast looking to make a good early impression, leading the Celtics to a solid victory.
Final Score: Milwaukee Bucks 89 - Boston Celtics 101
November 3 @ Washington
The one area where the Celtics have struggled in the past few seasons is their inability to play well on the road end of back-to-back games. This season, the Celtics have greater depth to rely on and may also benefit from resting the starters late in their home victory against a weaker foe the night before.
The Wizards bring an entirely different frontcourt than what faced Boston last season through the acquisitions of Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Emeka Okafor. Despite the new frontline, this team will go only as far as point guard John Wall can take them. The talented and explosive Wall is a difference-maker on offense, but will be equally challenged on the defensive end contending with the backcourt rotation of Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.
In seasons past, the tired legs of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would be a key factor contributing to the Celtics losing these road ends of back-to-back games. Now with a deeper talent base to work with, the Celtics will be better suited to handle such situations. In this contest, the Celtics will still struggle against a young and athletic team early but will ultimately grind out a narrow victory.
Final Score: Boston Celtics 94 - Washington Wizards 90
November 7 vs. Washington
After playing a close contest against the Wizards four nights prior, the Celtics will take full advantage of the time off between games, leading to an easy home victory in the early season rematch. With a few games under their belt, the Celtics should be more polished on both ends of the floor and take advantage of the deep player rotation now at Doc Rivers' disposal.
With one game already played against Washington, Boston will be better prepared to counter anything that the Wizards can throw at them and cruise to the win despite a potentially explosive performance by Wall.
Final Score: Washington Wizards 96 - Boston Celtics 107
If the Boston Celtics do not suffer a post-Miami let down, the team is well positioned to finish the first week of the season with a 4-0 record. The toughest match-ups are on opening night and the road game in Washington, but this team enters the season driven to exact revenge on the Heat and send a message to the rest of the league that the Celtics are a team that must be contended with.
Scott Duhaime is a passionate fan of the Boston Celtics and avid follower of the NBA for over 30 years; weathering the highs and lows of past seasons and witnessing five of Boston's 17 championships; with more to come.
Follow Scott on Twitter: @scott_duhaime
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