The Celtics are a popular pick to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this season after nearly making it there last year, minus their two legitimate superstars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. ESPN's Zach Lowe, perhaps the most respected analyst in the NBA community, agrees.
In his yearly predictions column released on the eve of the NBA season, Lowe predicts that Boston will win 60 games and make it past this year's Eastern Conference opponents and face, who else, the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Of course, no one, including Lowe, is going to predict the Celtics knocking off the defending champs, who've won four of the last five NBA championships. Anything can happen, but with Golden State starting no less than three future Hall of Famers in their lineup, they're the presumptive favorites.
More notably, Lowe also predicts that Terry Rozier will not only finish this season in Boston, but will also win Sixth Man of the Year. It would be a bit of an upset, as past Sixth Man winners have been the same general type of player: a spark plug off the bench, someone who can sub in, score 25, and sub out with no issues.
Rozier isn't that kind of player, but if he can continue the level of play he showed in the playoffs, he would be a top candidate for the award. Brad Stevens has said recently that he'll have to find minutes for 'Scary Terry' with the play he's been bringing to the table in training camp. He can run the offense, score on his own, and is a stingy defender who can lock down an opposing point guard.
Rozier is a key piece to this Celtics team, if only because he provides Stevens with the option to rest Irving throughout the regular season, which is important for someone with Irving's injury history. But if he can step his game up and become a starting-caliber player coming off the bench, winning Sixth Man of the Year will be only the beginning.
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