With an overwhelming 25-point win over Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics have proven that they can win it all.
Though they have only made it through game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics have shown that they can beat the best player in the world and his team with ease. The fact that the Celts are injury plagued should shock people even more, and make people excited for when Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are healthy.
The Celtics started the game with a great run, giving Lebron and company fits on every possession. By halftime, The Celtics had already pulled away, James only had 7 points, and the team was 0/12 on threes. The defense was just as good as it has been all year, if not better. The offense was overall spectacular. Everyone was making their shots, and ball movement was almost Spurs level.
Now, let’s move on from game 1 and talk about all the factors that make these Celtics true championship contenders.
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Discipline and Depth
Now, let’s talk about two of the most important factors in basketball, the two D’s: Discipline and Depth. These are two essentials for any team to be even remotely successful. If you don’t have discipline, you make silly mistakes on the regular, allowing room for turnovers and makes the players lazy as a result of the momentum change. Without depth, your starters become tired from overuse.
Some teams have discipline but lack depth. If you have to overplay your top guys, they begin to get tired, then you see recklessness come into play: turnovers happen more often, and the team suffers greatly.
The Boston Celtics, coached by Brad Stevens, exemplify what disciplined basketball should look like. They also have the depth needed to execute constantly, that way they can still put in their top guys when they are needed the most. Players like Shane Larkin, Semi Olejeye, and Marcus Smart make it possible for Coach Stevens to sub out the starters and let them rest for long periods of times.
On top of that, depth creates flexibility in lineups. Players like Marcus Morris and Al Horford can be used in numerous ways for plenty of scenarios. Having depth like this gives the Boston Celtics a traditional edge.
Competitive Edge and Motivation
The Boston Celtics fear no one. They have been proving this since the 60’s when Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain would clash regularly. Russell never backed down from playing the best player in the league at that time. He often kept Wilt from doing any of his normal moves, including a turnaround jump shot that stunned every big in the league.
Lebron James is the Wilt Chamberlain of today’s NBA, while Morris and the Celtics represent Russell and the Celtics of old. They are extremely competitive and will not back down from anyone, even if he is arguably the greatest of all time.
Motivation has been a tremendous plus for this squad. They haven’t been favored in any playoff series they’ve been in this year. That chance to play as the underdog puts a chip on anybody’s shoulder. That extra thing to prove helps power people forward when their tank is empty. It has helped this young team a ton.
Defense wins Championships
I have given the Boston Celtics’ defense a lot, and they deserve it. They have the best defense in the league, as they constantly adjust to their opponent’s game plan, but still stay disciplined in their approach. The biggest thing to mention about their defense was illustrated very well in Game 1 yesterday.
For the most part this season, The Celtics haven’t kept matchups on defense strict. The C’s have switched things up from possession to possession or from quarter to quarter. The team firmly believes that the best way to keep a team off its game is to switch matchups early and often.
During last night’s game, LeBron James was primarily guarded by Morris. However, we saw a number of guys play d on him. Sometimes it was Jaylen Brown, other times it was Jayson Tatum. I even saw Smart on him at one point. As a result, LeBron only scored 15 points on 5-16 shooting. This simple but complex strategy keeps players from fatigue, but also keeps the offense on its toes.
These are just a few points that point out what makes the Celtics a true Championship contender. Since they now have an early advantage against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, it is safe to say that they have a great chance of playing for the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming weeks.