The Boston Celtics are poised for a championship run
Outside of their first game against the Milwaukee Bucks and a seeding matchup against the Toronto Raptors, there is really no cause for concern on their schedule. Meetings against the Blazers, Nets, Magic, Grizzlies, and Wizards are all teams who could be on the brink of elimination. While any of those teams could play the role of spoiler, I doubt that would be the case.
While I am cautiously optimistic, I am also aware that the Celtics have some trouble keeping the bad teams away. They let them hang around just a little bit too long before they seal the deal. However, after nearly a four-month layoff, there should be no excuse for tired legs, mental miscues, or travel fatigue.
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Speaking of which, if any NBA team benefits from a lack of a hostile environment, it is Boston. In the Brad Stevens era, Boston is 2-11 when playing in Toronto and 5-6 on the road at Milwaukee. By playing at a neutral site, all the psychological pressures are gone. They can just focus on their game and not worry about their abysmal road record against these two teams that they will more than likely be facing if they are able to move past the first round of the playoffs.
Schedules and records aside, the gift of gifts that Boston was rewarded was a long time to heal any injuries. Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart have been walking injuries this year. Kemba Walker, known for his durability, had nagging knee issues prior to the hiatus. Enes Kanter and Robert Williams were a revolving door of DNPs due to whatever bumps and bruises they had going on. That is all null and void for all teams, as a four-month period of rest allowed every player to regroup.
I am never one to use injuries as an excuse for a team’s performance because the Celtics were playing darn good basketball all year long. Can you just imagine this Boston team at full strength? The potential of Jayson Tatum, who was playing his way to an All-NBA selection prior to the hiatus, running alongside Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker. If he cannot take his shot, he can pass it out or drive it into Kanter or Brown for the slam.
Of all the starting lineups, the Celtics have the most intrigue. The Walker-Brown-Tatum-Hayward quartet has to keep defenses honest because any one of those guys can take over on a given night. Furthermore, the other three do not mind taking a backseat if that means wins are going to come of it.
We all talk about LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and James Harden and rightfully so because they are all transcendent individual talents. However, basketball is a team game and there is no team with a brighter opportunity this year to make an NBA Finals run than the Boston Celtics.