The Boston Celtics entered this season with high expectations. After a busy summer that saw Boston land Gordon Hayward in free agency and Kyrie Irving via trade, the Celtics were tapped by many as having a real shot to take down Irving’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and making it back to the NBA Finals.
But then Hayward was lost for the season six minutes into the season opener, and the Celtics found themselves 0-2 and trailing in the second half of their third game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Suddenly, those dreams of contention this season seemed to be fading away, and a season that had recently held so much promise looked like it could be a disappointing one.
What didn’t look obvious at the time to anyone — including Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics beat writer for The Boston Globe, was that the Celtics were about to come back and beat the Sixers, and in doing so kick off what has become a 13-game winning streak.
“There’s like a million surprises, really,” Himmelsbach said in trying to explain Boston’s success on the latest edition of “Posting Up,” The Washington Post’s NBA podcast.
“But the biggest one is the most obvious one: that Gordon Hayward, one of the 25 best players in the world, got hurt in the first game, then they lost the second one and were pretty close to losing to the Sixers in the third one.
“[At that point], people were talking like, ‘This season could go bad.’ ”
Instead, it’s gone shockingly well. Boston has put together the league’s best defense, endured injury scares to its two remaining stars, Irving and Al Horford, and seen young players like Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum emerge as impact players.
Himmelsbach talked about all of that on the podcast, as well as previewing Boston’s next game: a showdown at TD Garden against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who not only sport four all-stars but also have the league’s best offense.
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