“2023-24 NBA Season Opener: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks – Lineups and Injury Update
The wait is finally over as the 2023-2024 NBA season kicks off, with the Boston Celtics launching their campaign at Madison Square Garden against their rivals, the New York Knicks.
While the Celtics bid farewell to some familiar faces in the offseason, they also made significant acquisitions to bolster their already star-studded roster. The question on everyone’s mind is whether they can maintain their preseason performance with a victorious start to the season.
Here’s a look at the expected lineups for both teams, the reasons behind these choices, and any injury-related concerns.
Boston Celtics’ Starting Five for the season opener is a topic of interest after their impressive 4-1 preseason run. Derrick White, with his exceptional defensive prowess, made a strong case for himself during the preseason, solidifying his claim to a starting role. While the focus was primarily on the arrival of Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trailblazers, White’s consistently high-level performance, particularly on the defensive end, justifies his starting position. It’s worth noting that White’s inclusion in the All-Defensive second team last season reinforces his credentials.
Alongside White, the backcourt will likely feature either Holiday or Jaylen Brown, depending on Coach Joe Mazzulla’s frontcourt strategy. Horford might assume a rotational role for this game, with a small-ball approach anticipated from the start, affording both Holiday and Brown starting positions. The expectation is that Holiday will further shine as he builds chemistry with the team, justifying the Celtics’ trade for the All-Star guard.
Given the impressive preseason display by the All-Defensive backcourt duo, it’s unlikely that Mazzulla will make any changes in the guard positions for this season opener. The prospect of White and Holiday both making All-Defensive teams this season is a tantalizing one.
As anticipated for most of the season, the Celtics’ opening lineup features the formidable All-Star wing pair, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum, who had an outstanding season last year, is now firmly in the MVP conversation with his impressive statistics. His remarkable scoring and all-around performance have elevated him to one of the league’s top stars, as acknowledged by various sports analysts. Tatum’s MVP potential and the Celtics’ championship prospects have heightened expectations for this season.
The maturity and physical development of Tatum, now 25, suggest that he could secure the league MVP title and lead the Celtics to their 18th championship. Tatum is expected to be the first name in the starting lineup.
Brown, who recently signed a substantial contract extension, must start the campaign without feeling the burden of his new deal. His preseason performances demonstrated his consistent high-level play, aligning with the expectations set during his two-time All-Star career. The dynamic duo of Tatum and Brown is regarded as one of the best in the league and is expected to be a fixture in the starting lineup, provided both players are available.
The center position, following Robert Williams’ departure, is set to be filled by the newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis has shown consistency and readiness for the regular season during the preseason, earning the approval of Celtics fans. While his career has been marred by injuries, his performance when fit justifies his status as the 4th overall pick in 2015 and the Celtics’ efforts to secure his services. Assuming he remains healthy, Porzingis is poised to make a significant contribution to the Celtics’ success during his tenure in Boston.”
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis
With a more small-ball lineup being the go-to for the Celtics’ final two preseason matchups, I expect that to continue, utilizing the All-Defensive backcourt duo, the All-Star wing duo, and their newly acquired, sharpshooting big man as much as they can.
With the defensive capabilities in this lineup, it will be a tough time for any team to get any offensive momentum going, and with the sheer amount of shooting and scoring options, it will be a hard time trying to stop them – especially when the momentum starts to build.
This is the best the Boston Celtics have looked in a while. Do you think this is a championship-winning team?
The New York Knicks went 1-3 during their preseason, will they make any notable changes for the regular season?
During the Knicks’ preseason campaign, Jalen Brunson has had limited minutes on the court, which has kept us from witnessing the level of performance we know he is capable of. Last season Brunson took a huge leap forward and continued his good run of form into the FIBA World Cup in the summer while representing Team USA. If he continues on this upward trajectory, he could become a significant asset and play a pivotal role in launching the Knicks to success – a feat that has eluded the team for some time.
Brunson 2021-22: 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 0.8 SPG
Brunson 2022-23: 24 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.2 APG, and 0.9 SPG
Although he played exceptionally well last season, Brunson was snubbed when it came to the All-Star game, which he claims did not bother him, and that he was happy to see his teammate make the cut. If he continues to improve his game like he has been the last couple of seasons, Brunson making the 2024 All-Star game is a genuine possibility.
I expect Brunson to start for their season opener on Wednesday night, and if he continues to play like he did last season, the Boston Celtics All-Defensive guard duo will have their work cut out for them – but I feel confident in their ability to do so. The question remains: Is Brunson capable of being the driving force for success in the Knicks organization? This season provides him with the opportunity to answer that question.
When it comes to the shooting guard position for the Knicks, there is one stand-out player who, even though he didn’t have the best preseason, I still expect to make the starting five and that is Quentin Grimes. As he approaches his third season in the NBA, the 25th overall pick from 2021 has the chance to make a name for himself this season – a bit of a recurring theme for the Knicks.
During the 2022-23 season, Grimes showed good all-around improvements, earning him 66 starts throughout the campaign – compared to only six games that he started in his rookie season. With strong competition in the form of Donte DiVincenzo, RJ Barrett, and Josh Hart, now is the time for the 23-year-old to step up and secure his starting position going forward. Speaking of Barrett…
Although I don’t expect him to start at the shooting guard spot, I do think he will start this season opener as their small forward. There were talks during the offseason about Barrett potentially having a bench role this season, but surely after some of his preseason performances, those conversations can be looked back on and laughed at.
Barrett vs. Timberwolves: 23 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals
Barrett vs. Wizards: 19 points, seven rebounds, and three assists
Much like many of his fellow Knicks teammates, Barrett faces the pressure of delivering a standout season. In an organization as storied as the Knicks, which has been without a trophy for such a prolonged period of time, the collective desire to return to the winning side is evident. The weight of expectations is heavy, but Barrett and the rest of the organization are determined to bring the Knicks back to their old winning ways. Do you think Barrett has what it takes to be a part of a successful Knicks side?