Boston Celtics: Job not done with series victory over the Milwaukee Bucks

Jaylen Brown #7 reacts with Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jaylen Brown #7 reacts with Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics completed their comeback from a 3-2 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks with a dominant 109-81 victory in Game 7. Just a few days after a seemingly devastating Game 5 loss, the Celtics flipped the script and sent the Bucks packing.

This is a huge win for the Celtics. They faced their biggest test of the season after throwing away Game 5, forcing themselves to go on the road in Game 6 and win just to force a Game 7. But they did just that, and now they have a date with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

While the win over the Bucks is obviously huge, the job is not done for Boston. They have faced some huge tests in the postseason, and they have checked off all the boxes so far. But beating Milwaukee wasn’t the end goal for this team; there is still work to be done. And that’s important to remember as they head down to Florida to face off against the Heat.

The Boston Celtics have accomplished a lot, but the job is not done

Taking down Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks may end up being the toughest test the Celtics face this postseason. Nobody knows, because there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played. And it’s important to not get too caught up in what is really just a stepping stone towards the teams final goal.

In the immediate aftermath of Game 7, many were ready to proclaim Boston the NBA champions, which is way too premature. The Celtics still have a lot of work to do, and they cannot afford to overlook their next opponent in the Heat.

In case you forgot, the Heat sent the C’s packing in the 2020 bubble in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Many believed Boston to be the favorite heading into the series, but they struggled to grapple with Miami’s zone defense late in games. It didn’t help how they didn’t have a ton of consistency, with top guys like Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker dealing with injuries.

Despite Miami being the top seed in the East, there’s a good chance the Boston Celtics will be favored in this series too. But they can’t get caught up in the hype, because the Heat are still a very good team.

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Much of the core group they had during their run to the Finals in 2020 is still in tact. Jimmy Butler is their top player, and Bam Adebayo is their anchor that allows the team to use different looks whenever they please. With a solid supporting cast, it’s easy to see how Miami has made it so far.

Still, this is the Boston Celtics best chance to advance to the NBA Finals

It’s kind of crazy to think about, but this will be Boston’s fourth Eastern Conference Finals appearence in the past six years. They had the bubble appearence against the Heat and two against the Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back years. The Celtics actually had the lead midway through the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the Cavs in the 2018 ECF, but that’s the closest they have gotten to reaching the Finals in the past few seasons.

In each series, there were reasons to be skeptical of the Celtics chances of winning. They probably could have beaten the Heat, but they ran into them when they were on absolute fire. Let’s be abundantly clear before this series kicks off though; this is Boston’s best shot of reaching the NBA Finals in the past decade.

They are a drastically different team than the one that lost to Miami two years ago. This is Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown‘s team now. They didn’t have full control of a team that was trying to accomadate for three or four stars in 2020. This team doesn’t have that problem. Everyone knows their roles, and that should bode well for them against another defensively sturdy team in the Heat.

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Boston now has the offensive firepower and defensive tenacity to beat Miami in a way they were unable to in 2020. The Heat have gotten some new pieces too, such as Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, and Max Strus, but how they will fare against the Celtics remains to be seen. The Heat have had a much easier path to the Eastern Conference Finals than Boston; this will be their toughest test yet.

And while I am not discounting Miami’s skill, Boston may have already gotten through their toughest series. Whether it was sweeping Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, or sending Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks home in a hard fought seven game series, both were probably more difficult than beating the inconsistent Atlanta Hawks and the mess that the Philadelphia 76ers are.

Aside from that, Boston matches up much better with Miami than they once did. Whereas Adebayo was running free from Daniel Theis two years ago, he will have to go up against the three headed monster of Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams this time around. If Theis ends up guarding Adebayo at any point in this series, I might just turn off my TV.

The Celtics also have the depth pieces to matchup with the Heat’s own depth pieces. If they want to bring a guy like Tyler Herro off the bench for scoring, Boston can either leave Marcus Smart on him or bring Derrick White off the bench. Butler, Miami’s top player, will spend a lot of time against Tatum or Brown on both sides of the ball. If he struggles, the Heat will be in trouble.

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But this won’t be a series where the Boston Celtics absolute torch the Heat, because they are a good team. They are well coached by Erik Spoelstra, have experience being in this situation before, and they have a winning pedigree.

And yet, this is still Boston’s series to win. Given how good they have been in the playoffs, they need to win this series. This may be their best shot of winning a title with this current core. But they cannot underestimate the Heat. If they keep playing with their same mindset, they should be able to beat Miami, but they cannot take anything for granted at this stage of the postseason.