About a week and a half ago, the NBA schedules came out for the Orlando restart. The Rafters podcast and the Legends Lingo podcast made their predictions in respective episodes. CGS writer John McCormack also gave his record prediction, which you can read here. But nobody has taken into account how tough (or easy) the Celtics schedule is. For anyone wondering what the schedule might be, here’s their release from a week and a half ago.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 26, 2020
Now, the Celtics have their fair share of somewhat easy games and tough games as well. Let’s get into the rankings from worst to first, shall we?
8. Washington Wizards
The worst team the Celtics will play has to be the Washington Wizards. The Celtics take on the Wizards August 13th, in their last game of the “regular season”. Keep in mind, the Wizards are without Davis Bertans as he chose to sit out the restart, entering free agency after the season. I know the Wizards have Bradley Beal and when John Wall’s healthy, they’re a dangerous duo. But is John Wall healthy? That’s the question we never know the answer to. If Wall isn’t 100/110%, then the Wizards will continue to struggle. Something tells me the Celtics have this one.
7. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are a young and exciting team. But that’s just it. They’re young. Ja Morant is still a rookie. They have a lot of second year players in Grayson Allen, Jaren Jackson Jr., and third year player Josh Jackson. In a few years, the Grizzlies will be a fun team to watch. For now, the Celtics veteran leadership and deeper team will lead them to a (probably) easy victory.
6. Orlando Magic
Next are the Orlando Magic. The Celtics seem to have a pretty easy time against the Magic. Even with a star in Aaron Gordon and young pieces in Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba, the Magic are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. Pretty simple. Beat the Magic on the boards like you should and you more than likely win the game. This is another game that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
5. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are struggling this season. But honestly, it’s hard to go against that backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Trail Blazers have a cast around the two guards with players like Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside, and Carmelo Anthony. This team should be so much better than a 29-37 record. In this one, the Celtics should win it. But don’t expect the Trail Blazers to just lay over and hand it to the Celtics.
4. Brooklyn Nets
When you first look at this, you might be stunned to see them at four. But think about this for a second. In 2018-2019, the Nets made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round. Who wasn’t around last year for the Nets? Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan. Who won’t be around for the restart? Durant, Irving, and Jordan! This Nets team is scrappy, plays tough, and plays team basketball. Again, this should be a Celtics win. But then again, the Nets have proven they can beat the Celtics, even in Boston. But with less weapons, the Celtics should have an easier time in Orlando, in theory.
3. Miami Heat
This is where the games should be harder and more interesting. In the two matchups this season, the Celtics took care of business. But this Miami team is sneaky good. Jimmy Butler leads the way for the Heat with Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson, and Udonis Haslem helping Butler. This is a game though that the Celtics will win, but it’s very close. The Celtics have a deeper bench than the Heat and that’ll show in this matchup.
2. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are the surprise team of the 2019-2020 season. Remember, the Raptors ended up being 46-18 before COVID-19 hit. This is after Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers too. Nick Nurse has this team as a serious contender. The Celtics won two out of three matchups against the Raptors during the regular season. This Raptors team has an emerging star in Pascal Siakam with other pieces like Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Fred Van Fleet. Honestly, this could be a game that the Celtics lose 97-95 or something very close like that.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
This is going to be the toughest game and of COURSE it’s the first game they play. Giannis is Giannis, he’s arguably the best player on the planet. Khris Middleton seems to play his best basketball against the Celtics. They also have Kyle Korver, Pat Connaughton, Robin Lopez too. This Bucks team is a finals favorite for a reason. The Celtics can matchup with the Bucks. But the first game? The Bucks might have Giannis run loose and the Celtics come away with a loss.
The Celtics have a variety of opponents in their Orlando schedule. Could they go 8-0? If the chips fall right, sure. Could they also go 5-3 or 4-4? Absolutely. My official prediction is 6-2. Lose to the Raptors and Bucks and win the rest. Either way, the Celtics playing basketball again will be fun. Let’s fast forward just a bit to give us sports back on television!
-Al Nahigian (@BigAl2793)