*Thursday on TNT: Celtics vs. Warriors (8 ET)
Disaster struck the Celtics just five minutes into their season-opener, when star free-agent signing Gordon Hayward was lost for the season with a gruesome leg injury. Virtually everything has gone their way since, with a 13-game win streak pushing them atop the Eastern Conference even as mainstays Al Horford and Kyrie Irving joined Hayward for short stints on the sideline.
As great as they’ve been so far, some think the best is yet to come for the white-hot Celtics.
Count Warriors coach Steve Kerr among them with his opinion that the Celtics will maintain their lofty perch “for a long time to come” as the two teams prepare to play Thursday in a potential Finals preview.
“It sure looks like Boston is the team of the future in the East, with the assets that they still have and their young talent and their coaching, and Kyrie is amazing,” Kerr said, as reported by ESPN. “That looks like a team that is going to be at the top of the East for a long time to come. Whether their time is now or the future, that’s to be determined, but they sure look like they want it to be right now.
“They’re really sound, and they’re motivated. It’s a team that’s been on the rise the last couple of years. They lost in the conference finals. They want to win a championship, and it looks like it. Even without Gordon Hayward and that awful injury, Boston is just crushing people. So, it’s going to be really fun to go against them on Thursday. We know how tough it’s going to be.”
Boston defeated the Nets 109-102 on Tuesday for their 13th straight win, becoming the first team in NBA history with such a streak after opening the season with two losses. The defending champion Warriors, meanwhile, have won seven straight by an average of nearly 20 points per game.