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Boston Celtics 2015-16 Season Preview

Brad Stevens found a way to lead a young Boston squad to the postseason last year. Now the Celtics face greater expectations in a weak Atlantic Division.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 Record: 40-42, No. 2 Atlantic Division, No. 7 Eastern Conference. Eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs in four games.

Roster Additions: G Terry Rozier (No. 16 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft), G R.J. Hunter (No. 28 overall pick), F Jordan Mickey (No. 33 overall pick) F David Lee, F Amir Johnson, F Perry Jones III

Roster Subtractions: G Phil Pressey, F Brandon Bass, F Gerald Wallace, G Chris Babb

SBN Affiliate: CelticsBlog

2014-15 Recap: Expectations are large for coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics coming off a surprise playoff run in 2014-15. In just his second year with the team, Stevens finished fourth in NBA Coach of the Year voting with a 15-game turnaround from his first season and a playoff berth in the East. The season did not start out well, with the team falling to seven games under .500 early, and five games under on December 18. On that date, the front office made the move that likely changed the overall season for multiple teams, sending mercurial guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas in a five-player move. Acquisitions Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright were not enough to stabilize and the team dropped to 16-30 by the end of January.  From that day, Boston launched into an incredible 24-12 record, backed by the February 19 trade that brought in Isaiah Thomas in exchange for Marcus Thornton. A different player seemed to step up every night for Stevens, and the team powered ahead to finish No. 7 in the conference.  Unfortunately, Boston found itself caught in a LeBron James-shaped buzz saw in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Celtics were eliminated in four games, though not before a collision between center Kelly Olynyk and Cavaliers center Kevin Love knocked Love out of the postseason.

2015-16 Offseason: With a young team full of potential, there were not a lot of moves to be made for the Celtics in the offseason. Wallace and Babb were sent to Golden State in exchange for Lee, Jones III was brought in exchange for a second-round pick, and Johnson signed a two-year free agent deal after spending the last six seasons with the Toronto Raptors. The largest overhaul came via the draft, where the Celtics used their own pick to grab Terry Rozier and a pick acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Doc Rivers trade to get high-scoring guard R.J. Hunter.

Projected Starting Lineup: Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Crowder, Lee, Olynyk

2015-16 Outlook: This team has a surprising amount of depth. Many of the projected backups such as Turner, Thomas and Johnson would be starters on a lot of other teams. Smart had a fantastic rookie season once Rondo was dealt, with his turnovers decreasing each month he started as Turner became the primary ball handler. He is a strong scorer from multiple angles, and is capable of a 25-point explosion any night of the week. Bradley is a superb one-on-one defender, but he saw all of his offensive numbers from the previous year drop, including shooting percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage. After spending the last two years in Golden State, what David Lee brings to the table is uncertain. When healthy, he is a rim controlling force and dangerous interior scorer. However, he only played 49 games last season with a hamstring injury, and has missed time in three of the last four seasons.

Final Prediction: Brad Stevens has done a masterful job restoring the Boston Celtics after his storied collegiate coaching career at Butler, and he has a team capable of doing serious damage in the Eastern Conference. Once again, the rebuilding teams like New York and Philadelphia will provide a boost in the Atlantic Division, and there is no reason Boston should not continue to climb up the ladder.  45-37, No. 2 in division.

Yesterday's preview: New Orleans Pelicans
Up next: Washington Wizards