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Ime Udoka, Celtics begin new era against Knicks

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Udoka will make his NBA head-coaching debut when the Boston Celtics visit the New York Knicks in the season opener for both longtime division rivals Wednesday night.

While their seasons ended at the same time, the tenor of the early exit was far different for the Knicks than it was for the Celtics, who made the playoffs for the seventh straight season but were eliminated before the conference semifinals for the first time since the spring of 2016.

Udoka, who played seven seasons in the NBA before serving as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, will preside over a remade team after being named the 18th head coach in team history on June 28.

Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson, who combined to average 44 points per game last season, all exited.

Udoka acknowledged a brief four-game preseason – the Celtics went 2-2 – could increase the learning curve, especially with Horford and Jaylen Brown, the latter of whom finished second on the team with 24.7 points per game last season, on the COVID-19 list.

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