With the NBA season on the brink of returning in the now named “NBA Bubble” in Orlando, Florida, there are many teams who have been eying the restart as a chance to make amends and to improve on their season before the hiatus, and to secure the wins that matter.
A Tough Start
Their games have been announced, and once the season resumes, their first game will be against the incredible Milwaukee Bucks, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets, the Toronto Raptors, the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, and finally the Washington Wizards.
Many believe that they can still seal the 2nd place seed behind the Bucks, who have all but guaranteed themselves the number 1 spot. However, the Celtics second biggest test will be against the Raptors, and losing against them will severely damage their already long-shot odds.
Besides their very tough schedules, the Celtics have been struggling to keep their players fit. Before the break, they were having a torrid time keeping all their first team starters healthy and on the court.
Even now, the Celtics All-Star Point Guard Kemba Walker has missed a second-straight practice due to a bothersome knee. Not great news for a team that needs to be firing on all cylinders if they still want to make a serious go at the play-offs this season.
Another recent change that could put the team off their rhythm is the news that assistant coach Kara Lawson has left the Celtics to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. She’s due to leave the Orlando bubble in the next few days.
Rest Could be Pivotal
What has changed, is that even though the Celtics weren’t performing at the top of their game before the season took a break, for them, it doesn’t even really matter. They have had a long enough break to almost reset.
They have had a long enough time off the court to ensure that their players can train properly, can recover from injuries properly, and not feel rushed, they still have two weeks to ensure everything is in place before the season begins again.
Rob Williams Could Play Huge Role
Another plus, is the fact that the Celtics have added Rob Williams to their roster for the restart of the season. A player described by Marcus Smart as a “Freak of Nature”. He could be exactly what Boston needs to make a serious run for the play-offs.
Smart also went on to praise his athleticism, and his ability to change shots at the rim. This apparently hasn’t been overhyped either, Williams has been proving his abilities over and over in the gym in Orlando.
Williams has now fully recovered from a left hip edema injury that kept him on the sidelines all season, but he is now back, and by all accounts, better than ever. His antics in training have set the Celtics alight, something fans want to see when the season restarts.
His biggest problem was always the fact that his injury prevented him from being fully integrated into the team, this has now changed. He also acknowledges that the lengthy treatment he has received has properly healed his body, making him quicker, stronger, and an all-round even better player.
Youth Not to Be Overshadowed
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has also praised some of the youngsters in the team, talking about their improvements over the past few months since the season has been on a break. Namely, Tremont Waters and Carsen Edwards.
He has spoken about how Waters has the very special ability of making you look bad when you lose focus, while Edwards is looking more and more confident every day. He acknowledges that it takes time for rookies to settle, but he’s proud that these two have settled in some quickly.
Stevens has been pushing his young players in practice, mainly to build them up, but to also give Kemba Walker time to recover properly and not be in practice every day. Stevens has said that it is vital that Walker is fit in August for the play-off games, even if he misses a couple of the seeding games that are coming up.
Marcus Smart has also spoken about how living in the bubble at Disney has done a great service for the team. He has stated that they have all grown a lot closer, obviously do a lot of activities together and are building proper bonds off the court.
They are still practicing as hard as ever, but building these friendships can do nothing but help the team. Proper communication and relationships are vital for a championship-winning side, and where better to build those friendships than at the playground that is Disney?
The Celtics are gearing up to put in serious performances when the season restarts. By all accounts, they are keeping their players as fit as possible, their youngsters are performing at the top level, and the whole team is gelling.
If all goes to plan, the Celtics have a serious shout at a play-off spot, and can also make life very difficult for teams that are currently seen as better than them right now. Only time will tell what the Celtics have to offer, or what they can achieve.
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