Former Playoff Rival Makes Bold Celtics Prediction

Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum

Getty Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum #0.

After the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in their season opener on October 18, former NBA player-turned-analyst JJ Redick made a bold prediction regarding the Celtics in comparison to their Eastern Conference counterparts.

“I think the Boston Celtics are the favorites in the East,” Redick said on ESPN’s First Take. “I look at what the Celtics did on their roster this offseason and adding Malcolm Brogdon. He fills a need that they had off the bench, and he was great [against Philadelphia]. I expect the Celtics should be the favorites to come out of the East.”

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Redick faced off against the Celtics in the postseason three times in his NBA career. He faced them in two consecutive postseasons when he played for the Orlando Magic in 2009 and 2010. He and the Magic won their first series against the Celtics in seven games in the second round, then lost the next series the following year in the Eastern Conference Finals in six. He then faced the Celtics again in 2018 when he played for the 76ers, where they lost in the second round.

The Magic traded Redick to the Bucks in 2013, where he played the rest of the season there before being signed and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stephen A. Smith Believes Celtics Will Miss Ime Udoka

Before the Celtics took on the 76ers on opening night, ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith relayed his belief that Head Coach Ime Udoka’s absence will hurt the Celtics’ chances of making it back to the NBA Finals. Smith compared Udoka’s success to Brad Stevens back when he was the Celtics’ Head Coach.

“I just think that he’s that much of an exceptional coach. I would like to remind people (that) Brad Stevens was one hell of a coach before he was ascended to President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. What he couldn’t do in seven years or so, Ime Udoka did in his first year,” Smith said, which was in reference to the Celtics making the finals with Udoka running the show.

Smith acknowledged that not much is known with Interim Head Coach Joe Mazzulla, but emphasized that Udoka’s absence will prevent them from returning to the NBA Finals.

“I can’t summarily dismiss the Boston Celtics – they are the reigning Eastern Conference champions, and with (Joe) Mazzulla there, we’ll see what he does, but I believe that Ime Udoka is that special of a coach that it won’t happen.”

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Smith Gives Celtics’ Reasoning for Not Firing Udoka

After Smith made it known that he did not believe the Celtics would not go back to the NBA Finals without Udoka, he also stated why he believes the Celtics opted to suspend Udoka instead of firing him.

“I believe that part of the reason [Udoka] was suspended but not fired is that the Boston Celtics did not want him to end up in Brooklyn. And because there was nothing that was put out there that said it was a crime, I believe that if Ime Udoka had been fired by the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets would have fired Steve Nash and brought Udoka back, and he would be the coach of the Brooklyn Nets right now.”

Udoka was an assistant coach for the Nets during the 2020-21 season before agreeing to be the Celtics’ Head Coach. Until further notice, he has been suspended by the Celtics for the season.

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