I don’t think it will come as a surprise to many when I say that the Boston Celtics are going to be a great team this year. As long as Gordon Hayward doesn’t attempt another alley-oop dunk or Kyrie Irving doesn’t have a zen moment and realize he doesn’t want to play basketball, this team is on a direct flight to the NBA Finals.
Boston Holds the 2nd Best Odds to Win it All
ESPN’s BPI, which is a machine-generated predictive metric, gives the Celtics the best odds to win the Eastern Conference and plots them at 2nd to win the whole enchilada. Shockingly (kidding), the Golden State Warriors are once again the overwhelming favorites to win it all.
Here’s ESPN’s rationale behind the increased odds for the Celtics;
“Two reasons. First, the aforementioned departure of James, which helps free up the East and removes a major obstacle in Boston’s path,” ESPN’s Neil Johnson and Seth Walder wrote. “Second, rising expectations for the Celtics, given how well the team played in the face of major injuries and the breakout of Jayson Tatum. Boston’s defensive BPI rating (3.7) has more than doubled from this time last year (1.5).”
Thinking About Betting Against Boston? Think Again
At this point, who would really bet against this squad? This is a team that was a single win away from an NBA Finals birth a few short months ago despite season-ending injuries to arguably their top two players. The man who beat them last year just enrolled his son at a school in LA and will be playing ball in the Western Conference. The East-leading Toronto Raptors fired the Coach of the Year and shipped out one half of the deadly duo that made them relevant the past few seasons. To replace DeRozan, they got a talented yet disgruntled player who quit on his team last year. Oh, and he doesn’t even want anything to do with Toronto.
The 76ers are good, and will be a threat to the Celtics’ dynasty run moving forward, but not quite yet. Boston dismantled Philly in five games last year while Terry Rozier consistently made a mockery of their defense. I know it is tempting to ‘Trust the Process’, but I would be cautious about dropping the confetti too early on the 76ers’ championship aspirations.
Boston boasts the best finisher and ball handler the league has to offer in Kyrie Irving. They employ a duo of some of the best two-way players in the league in Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have superstar level ceilings and just finished embarrassing their opposition throughout the playoffs. The Celtics have debatably the top bench in all of basketball, making them the deepest team in the league. Brad Stevens is already one of the NBA’s best coaches and is only getting started.
Ushering in A New Era
All of the stars are beginning to align on a new era for the Celtics. An era without a King. The Eastern Conference is completely up for grabs now more than it has been in nearly 10 years. It’s time for a new participant in the championship series, and, at least according to ESPN, that team is the Boston Celtics.
Photo: Boston Herald