The Boston Celtics are one of the top teams in the NBA this year. They are guaranteed to make the postseason, but as it stands, they have a tough path to the NBA Finals.
While the 17 time NBA Champions do know what it takes to make it all the way, there are still a couple of things that the Boston Celtics needs to keep in mind this year, as the East is as competitive as ever.
The first thing for this team to consider, of course, must be its strengths. This team is young and inexperienced in postseason play, but they play tremendous defense and are extremely lengthy. Those attributes can make or break their postseason.
On top of their elite length and defense, their offense can get hot in a hurry. However, with Kyrie Irving out until the playoffs, they must learn to establish a consistent identity with their leader working to get back on the court. The defense will not be the issue. This team barely allows 100 points per game, which is wonderful.
As long as impact scorers like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can produce, all should go well while the starting 5 are in. When the bench unit comes in, sometimes it can be chaotic. Assuming Kyrie is back and healthy during the postseason like he plans, Terry Rozier will be leading the bench. While he is starting in Irving’s place at the moment, the Celtics are more effective when their guard depth is at full strength. I do love Shane Larkin, but Rozier and Uncle Drew are a lot more deadly that Terry and Shane. It’s simply facts.
Al Horford is a big part of the team, though he is often the forgotten man. He is the veteran presence that the C’s needed when they started the youth movement 5 years ago. He fits perfect with this Celtics system and he has been delivering consistently. Horford will be a huge factor in the Celtics success. His defensive efficiency and ability on the offensive end will be a huge help.
A rebounder and shot blocker that Boston signed earlier this season, Greg Monroe has made a difference off the bench. He has been a great rebounder (as he has been for years) and he also makes an impact offensively, has he is able to get position down low and make a move from time to time. Though he isn’t talked about much, consider Monroe a legitimate contributor.
As it stands in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics will face the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. This is a series that I’m scared of for the Celtics. I like this year’s Miami team. Since they traded for Dwyane Wade and started working through their bigs, they have become a true Cinderella-like team in the bottom of the playoff picture. Their rebounding savvy and tremendous post D is exactly what Boston does not want to face.
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There is a way for Boston to win this series in 6 games or less. The key for them will be to work the ball around the perimeter. Though they have solid guards, the Miami Heat can’t expect for Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo to defend across the perimeter. On top of that, though he can shoot the ball very well, Kelly Olynyk cannot play defense on the inside or the outside. As long as Al Horford can hit a couple shots and set solid screens, then this series could be no trouble.
The Cavs and Raptors
Listen, I won’t take long on these teams. Let’s start with the Raptors. Statistically, this team is a regular season juggernaut. Demar Derozan has had a MVP caliber season, and Kyle Lowry has complimented him well. I personally don’t think they will do well in the postseason. Over the years, they have shown that they can never keep the ball rolling when it truly counts. If they meet the Celtics, who are notably solid in crunch time, I don’t expect anything but Celtics in 5.
With the Cavs, Lebron always scares me. Why? Well, he’s Lebron James! he’s a notorious Celtics killer! However, his supporting cast is lesser than the Celtics whole unit, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown do a well enough job on him. I suppose I shouldn’t be too concerned. He has started playing at a higher level earlier than usual in the season, so I suppose he might tire out. Then again, he’s Lebron James. If the King and Uncle Drew meet somewhere along the line, expect the Celtics in 7 games.
This year may just be the year we see the Celtics win banner 18. How fitting would it be that it would only be 10 years after Paul Pierce brought Boston their 17th?