Do Celtics Have ‘Legitimate’ Title Shot? NBA.com Counts Boston Among Contenders

Are the Boston Celtics actually contenders to win the NBA Finals this season?

NBA.com’s Shaun Powell included the Celtics on his list of eight teams that have a “legitimate shot” to win the championship in 2019-20. Given last season’s disappointing results and the bevvy of offseason roster changes in Boston and around the NBA, most observers peg the Celtics as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. Yet, Powell suggests expected chemistry improvements and Gordon Hayward’s potential reemergence as an All-Star-caliber player might vault the Celtics into contention in the coming months.

“Maybe the breakthrough simply skipped a year,” Powell wrote Monday. “Yes, the Celtics were supposed to be in this position in 2018-19 with Kyrie Irving and now they’re bringing Kemba Walker instead. For those who insist Kemba is short on Kyrie’s skills, he’s also short on Kyrie’s drama, so there’s that. And speaking of delayed reaction, if — and yes, it’s a big if — Gordon Hayward finally comes around to being Utah Jazz-era Gordon Hayward, next summer’s forecast could indeed be green.”

Most oddsmakers and experts predict the Celtics will around 49 games and claim the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It would take a considerable over-achievement for Boston to unseat the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers or other would-be contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Nevertheless, anything is possible in what’s expected to be one of the most unpredictable races for NBA supremacy in recent memory.

The Celtics will begin their regular season slate Wednesday when they visit the 76ers.

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