Grande: Celtics Expectations High in Watered-Down Eastern Conference

Celtics radio voice Sean Grande joins Adam Kaufman on Celtics Beat to discuss a variety of offseason NBA topics

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics holds off Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the NBA game between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at The O2 Arena on January 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

With the NBA schedule release in the rear view, and Boston Celtics training camp still a few weeks away, the slate of hoops topics can run the gamut.

This week, Adam Kaufman welcomed the radio voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande, on to Celtics Beat to touch on everything from that schedule drop to minutes predictions, the 76ers rivalry and even Kevin Garnett’s rafters eligibility.

Grande gets an early look at the tentative schedule, but even with some noted fixes, Boston’s 2018-19 slate holds some surprises.

“It’s a lot of road games early,” Grande says. “The longest trip we’ve had in the Brad Stevens era, a 10-day trip, coming very early, the third week of the season, is very unusual. To have a western trip the first of November is pretty odd.”

It also won’t be a cake-walk for Boston, with the Eastern Conference arguably opening up with the departure of LeBron James. The expectations weighing on the Celtics will be immense.

“A tough early schedule, if this team starts out 11-10, people are going to freak out a little bit,” he warned. “Nine of the first 13 on the road, if you go 9-4 that is a heck of a start, but the expectations are going to be so high. … The first 17 or so games of the season is a pretty rough stretch.”

That stretch starts with a nationally-televised home-opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. Boston and Philadelphia play four times —including Christmas Day — all on national TV. Grande also discusses this attempted force-feeding of a new rivalry in a watered-down conference.

“I think it is perfectly logical to make the Celtics the team to beat in the East,” said Grande, who also warned that Boston’s 4-1 series win this spring wasn’t quite so in-hand. “It wasn’t. It was as narrow a five-game series win as you can possibly have. It could’ve been 4-1 Sixers.”

The two also previewed what is sure to be a season-long topic of minutes distribution and who takes the mantle of Boston’s best player. While both Kaufman and Grande appear to lean towards the two-way talent of a healthy and dunking Gordon Hayward, Grande does make one solid, and perhaps jarring point. One that Brad Stevens will certainly have in mind during that opening stretch of games.

No way they get past 30 minutes [per game], Grande says of the Celtics star players. “No way.”