Celtics: NBA finals champs?



The Boston Celtics are poised to make a run for the NBA Finals, as long as all the pieces can cooperate. The Celtics will undoubtedly have an easier road to the trophy this year due to a weak Eastern Conference.

Ian Babcock, Staff Writer

With a team made up of three All-Stars, nine up and coming players under the age of 25 and a genius of a head coach, the Boston Celtics are ready to take over the NBA. They have a perfect opportunity to make it to the finals this year, as they face an inexperienced conference in the playoffs.

The Celtics are coming off their best year since 2009-2010, when they made the NBA Finals. Last year, the Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost against arguably the greatest player in NBA history, LeBron James. The Celtics’ success last season was particularly significant since they made it through the NBA playoffs without two of their best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.  Both were injured earlier in the season, causing them to miss all of the playoffs. This allowed younger players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier to gain experience and adapt to the intensity of the game.

The Eastern Conference is commonly known as the “easier conference,” compared to the Western one, and it will be even easier for the Celtics this year. With LeBron moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, The East doesn’t have the domination of LeBron, but is now a wide-open conference. LeBron completely took control of the Eastern Conference the past eight years, as he has made the finals the past eight years with two different teams, the Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Celtics are the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. “This is now the Celtics’ conference to lose,” said Chris Barnewell, NBA analyst for CBS Sports. “They have the experience of winning in the playoffs and Brad Stevens is one of the NBA’s best coaches.” Since the Celtics are the favorites, they will have to deal with new problems and expectations, as they will  “be expected to act like contenders from day one [which] could be both challenging and stressful,” said Barnewell.

The Eastern Conference won’t be a cakewalk for the Celtics, considering other Eastern Conference teams still have star players (Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo), but if they play up to their full potential, they could see major success.

When it comes to Celtic players, they aren’t lacking confidence.  These players know they have something special brewing in Boston, and they want to take full advantage of it. Jaylen Brown, third-year shooting guard, expects the Celtics to see major success within the next five years. When the 22-year-old was asked how many championships he will have won by the time he’s 28, he replied, “I don’t want to jinx myself, and I don’t play to lose, so I’m going to give it five” said Brown. Many other players have voiced confidence in this team, such as star point guard Kyrie Irving.  Irving believes that this team has all it takes to win championships, even against the star-studded Golden State Warriors.  “Can we beat the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series? Yes, because of who we have.”

The issue for the Celtics, and all the other Eastern Conference teams, is that making the finals could be the farthest they get. The Golden State Warriors from the Western Conference have won the past two NBA Finals, and are looking for a three-peat, loaded with five all-star players. Many analysts still have trust in this young Celtics team, however: “Not only do I believe that they’re the favorites in the East, I believe they are the only team in the entire NBA that can beat the Golden State Warriors,” said Stephen A. Smith, an analyst for ESPN. The Celtics’ young and talented lineup has seen success against the Warriors in the past, but the Golden State Warriors always manage to find a second gear during playoffs.

If the Celtics want to make it to the NBA Finals this year, they need to be willing to sacrifice individual rewards and stats, as they have too much talent on this team for every player to obtain their best statistics. The Celtics journey for the finals continues, as they still try to work out all the kinks during the regular season. The Celtics have gotten out to kind of a slow start, going 18-11, but look to improve their record after playing the Phoenix Suns on December 19.