Celtics

Robb: The Celtics could be in for bumpy ride to begin season

(Ashley Landis/Getty Images)

The Celtics begin the 2020-21 NBA season with nine games in 14 days, only three of which come at home. None of those contests at the TD Garden (Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Memphis) will be gimme wins by any means. In fact, Boston will probably likely only be favorites in three of these first nine contests (@ Detroit x 2, vs. Memphis).

Boston’s start to the year would be challenging enough even if they were at full strength with this roster. With key pieces sidelined and perhaps the most underwhelming preseason of the Brad Stevens modern era on the floor, the odds are high the road will be rocky out of the gate for this group. A short preseason creates plenty of challenges for everyone in the NBA but the Celtics’ revamped bench rotation will have to adapt quickly or a sub .500 start over the first 10 games is very much in play, beginning with the Bucks on Wednesday night.

"Well, I think we're gonna have to, obviously, I think there’s when you first look at the schedule,” Stevens explained, “you look at how challenging the first couple of months are, and obviously it starts right out of the gate with this really really good Milwaukee team. And so you're going to learn a lot about yourself first and foremost. And I think that there's a positive in that.”

December and January will be big for information gathering for Boston’s brass. Without Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford, opportunities will be plentiful for everyone from Javonte Green to Aaron Nesmith. Some younger guys will start to build trade value, other guys will lose whatever minor trade value they had left if they fail to break into the rotation or underwhelm while in it. As Danny Ainge and the front office build for a future that will be keyed upon putting the right talent around Tatum, all of this information will help dictate what direction he tries to go in next.

The Bucks will provide a useful test on opening night as a litmus test. They added a Celtics trade target this offseason in