2018-19 Season Preview: Boston Celtics

Kyrie Irving and the Celtics enter the 2018-19 season as the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

Coach: Brad Stevens (entering his sixth season, 221-189, .539).

Last Season: 55-27, lost in Eastern Conference Finals to Cleveland, 4-3.

Key Returnees: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis.

Key Additions: Robert Williams (rookie, Texas A&M).

Key Losses: Greg Monroe (Toronto).

Outlook: All systems appear to be go for the Celtics. With LeBron James gone off to Hollywood, the gates through the Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals have been unlocked and no team in the conference seems more ready to step through them than the Celtics. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back to full health, with youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown ascending quickly and with Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis all filling key, important roles, Boston seems primed to take the next step that comes after losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which it did last spring to James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics added athletic big man Robert Williams out of Texas A&M in the draft and honcho Danny Ainge is armed with a war chest of assets in the form of first-round draft picks to utilize if the need or want to swing for the fences arises. This season, anything less than coming out of the East on top will be deemed a failure.