Everybody and their mothers are already counting out the Boston Celtics this postseason. Claiming them to be the weakest number one seed ever. We’ve heard all the doubters cry, “If Rondo was healthy it would have been a sweep.” What they fail to understand is they have and will continue to play with that chip on their shoulders. All these hater like comments will only serve to add fuel to the fire. A majority is already calling for a sweep for the Cavs, saying, “Boston shouldn’t even show up to play.”
In this article, I plan to outline the 5 reasons why I believe the Boston Celtics can pull off what would be an upset by beating the defending champions in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
1. Defensive Depth And Versatility
The Boston Celtics have a variety of different defenders that can contain the likes of Kyrie Irving and any of Cleveland's shooters. Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder are among the league’s best perimeter defenders. You take away the three point shot, which Cleveland basically has lived by in these playoffs, then you eliminate a big part of what makes the Cavaliers a dangerous offensive squad.
They have versatility in sense of their rim protection that comes in the form of Al Horford and Amir Johnson. These two will make LeBron work for everything in the paint. Forcing LeBron to settle and hope to make mid-range jumpers or long twos.
If LeBron decides to penetrate into the lane, then these two are fully capable or staying vertical and altering a share of his shot attempts at the rim. Now, LeBron is going to get his points no matter what because he’s that good but make him work for everything and limit his teammates.
2. Ball Movement
The Boston Celtics were 2nd in apg as a team on the regular season and it has certainly held up in the playoffs. They are only trailing the Golden State Warriors in team assists per game, averaging over 25 per contest. The Celtics run their offense through two primary playmakers in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Horford is one of the best out of the post passers in the game and his basketball IQ is off the charts.
Meanwhile, Thomas draws in multiple defenders every time he drives because most of the time, no one defender can contain him without fouling. On those drives, Thomas is able to free up space for his teammates and kick out a pass for an easy trey. With shooters like Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Terry Rozier to kick out to, you can practically book the points.
I’ve noticed over the years that any time a LeBron led team was defeated in the finals, it was a result of great ball movement from the opposition. You can look at the 2014 San Antonio Spurs and the 2015 Golden State Warriors that operated off of passing up a good shot for a great shot. Expect nothing less from a Brad Stevens coached offense.
3. Home Court
Though it may not seem like much when a team has home court against a LeBron led team, it can play a huge role. The Boston Celtics won all their games at home last round against the Washington Wizards. That’s a 50 win team but the Boston Celtics held their ground and defended TD Garden. Boston has a great home court advantage full of passionate fans that are overjoyed to see their team still in it.
Expect a sellout crowd to contend with in Boston. If the Celtics are able to win the first two games of this series at home, then a crazy stat would pick them as the overwhelming favorite to win the series. The Celtics are 35-0 when up 2-0 in a best of 7 series. That’s a big if, but the Boston Celtics are definitely capable.
4. Brad Stevens Play Calling
Stevens is already touted as one of the best “out of the timeout” play calling coaches in the NBA. He is able to read defenses as well as offenses and make the necessary adjustments on the fly. Gregg Popovich even called him one of the best young coaches in the league. That’s coming from the Michael Jordan of head coaches. Pretty good testimony to have if you’re Brad Stevens.
Brad Stevens never tries to make home run plays, he works to orchestrate the right play. He knows when to go small and when to go big with his lineups. He went small with Gerald Green in the starting lineup during most of the Bulls series and went bigger with Amir Johnson in the starting lineup during the Wizards series.
Remember when the Wizards started off Game 1 against the Celtics up 16-0 and everybody was waiting for the fat lady to sing but Stevens made the necessary coaching adjustments and they went on to win that game? They are capable of cutting big deficits with Stevens at the helm. It will not be luck if they do it either.
5. Isaiah Thomas
IT has emerged as one of the clutches players in the league and now he is watching tape with Kobe. Thomas has just come off the series of his life where he averaged 27.4 ppg and 7.3 apg. A series where he had to travel across the country from his sister Chyna’s funeral and where he damaged his front teeth, which would later require over 10+ hours of dental surgery.
The 5’9 point guard has been overlooked his whole life and still continues to deliver no matter the circumstance. Thomas wears his heart on his sleeve and you know this playoff run along with everything from now on will be dedicated to his little sister. Thomas is capable of exploding in any game and has been dubbed as the King of the Fourth.
Therefore, you all should sit back and enjoy because green runs deep.