The battle for the new Beast of the East is finally wide open after LeBron James moved to the Western Conference. ESPN’s pick for the new number 1 seed? The Boston Celtics.
As reported by Ricky Doyle from New England Sports Network, the projected ranking of teams is part of ESPN’s NBA “Summer Forecast” series. The ESPN panel believes the Boston Celtics will finish the season at the top of the standings with a 58-24 record.
Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving combined to miss 103 regular-season games last season, and the Celtics still won 55 games. Even if Boston needs to ease Hayward and Irving back a bit, the younger players who sparked Boston’s playoff run — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier — will be hungry to showcase their own development. It all adds up to Boston earning the second-highest win projection in the league, behind only Golden State.
Since Hayward has only played once with his team, it remains to be seen how his minutes would affect the team chemistry and development of Tatum, Brown and Rozier.
After Boston, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia Sixers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks rounded up the top five, respectively. The Celtics will have their hands full against the new-look Raptors and a more mature Sixers. A lot of people say the East will be boring without The King, but apparently that is the opposite, the East has never been as exciting this year.