Keefe: 5 fearless Celtics predictions

July 21, 2020 - 9:37 am

It all starts (again) July 31.

That's when the Celtics will taking on the Bucks in the first of their eight games leading into the postseason.

Brad Stevens' club enters the rekindled 2019-20 season with the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference, having gone 42-31. They certainly have the look of a team that could make some noise, particularly with the emergence of Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker'srest/improved health. But there are obstacles standing in the Celtics' way down in the Orlando bubble, most noticeably Milwaukee, Toronto and even a Philadelphia club the C's have beaten just once in four tries.

But there is optimism and excitement, to be sure. It's why Rich Keefe of the Dale and Keefe Show had no problem rattling off some fearless predictions for the upcoming sprint of a season (with commentary from Rob Bradford):

1. Celtics players will use this time to recruit potential free agents -- such as Montrezl Harrell or Derrick Favors. Harrell, who had temporarily left the bubble but is expected back, is finishing off a two-year, $12 million deal with the Clippers and is in the running for Sixth Man of the Year honors. He is averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 points per game. Favors is perceived as a leader in the locker room while averaging nearly a double-double (9.2 points, 9.9 rebounds).

2. Tatum and Walker will combine for 50-plus points per game in the postseason. It's not far-fetched considering Tatum is averaging 23.6 points per game this season, while Walker came in at 21.2. But we have yet to see Tatum total more than 18 points per contest in a postseason, and perhaps the biggest question mark so far since the Celtics' return is undeniably Walker's knee and if it will hold up throughout a postseason run.

3. Celtics will overcome the loss of Gordon Hayward, who will be lost for 4-5 days due to the birth of his child. People might be sleeping on the importance of Hayward, who in the last two games before the NBA shutdown averaged 25.5 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 3-point territory. 

4. The Celtics will win the Eastern Conference. One of the keys might be to not draw Philly, which, as mentioned, has had the Celtics' number this season. The Sixers represent the type of team that underachieved during the regular season but have the type of talent that may allow for an out-of-nowhere run. As for getting by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co., it can happen, with the Celts splitting their two games against Milwaukee this season. But the combination of the memories from last season's postseason, along with the reality of a team that 53-12 record this go-round is a reality check.

5. The Celtics lose to the Clippers in the Finals. It was a nice run, but Doc Rivers is the ultimate roadblock.