Underrated Celtics have a good shot at making the finals

December 7, 2017 — by Patrick Li and Roland Shen

With an unexpected 16-game win streak earlier in the year and a 22-4 record as of this writing, the Boston Celtics have now shown themselves to be NBA title contenders.

Even without key player Gordon Hayward, who broke his left ankle in the first few minutes of the very first game and will be sidelined for the entire year, the Celts are beating everyone in sight, including the Warriors in a recent matchup

So, why the Celtics are doing so good?

First, their starting five is severely underrated.

The Celtics picked up superstar point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason and still have underrated veteran center Al Horford. Irving is averaging 20.6 points a game on 44 percent shooting and is coming up clutch in close games.

In addition, young stars like rookie small forward Jayson Tatum and second-year shooting guard Jaylen Brown have emerged. Standing above 6’7, both guards have the ability to play tough defense, take the ball into the paint and finish. They are also strong 3-point shooters: Tatum at 49.3 percent and Brown at 41 percent.

The Celtics also have a deeper bench than many originally projected. Backup point guards Marcus Smart and center Aron Baynes have been key components. Smart has shown that he can perform well under pressure.

Despite all their success so far, the Celtics will still have to contend with one Eastern Conference powerhouse — the Cavaliers and LeBron James — in order to secure a spot in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers started are still a formidable opponent, especially considering that they’ve been playing without two key injured players: Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.

Thomas averaged 29 points and six assists a game last year, leading the Celtics to having the best record in the East. Unfortunately, he was injured in the playoffs and was traded to the Cavaliers for Irving.

Thomas is expected to make his return in mid-December. With Thomas in the lineup, the Cavaliers will likely improve in both shooting and playmaking.

The Cavaliers toppled the Celtics in their first matchup 102-99 on Oct. 17. The final question is whether the Celtics’ strong chemistry will pull through and give them the edge over Lebron and the Cavaliers, or if the superstars Lebron and Thomas will control the East.

If they make it through the Cavs, they might just be the toughest of all possible matchups for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets or whichever team emerges from the West. The Celtics are coached by Brad Stevens, who has shown himself throughout his four years there to be among the top in the league.

Let’s not forget that they have also won three of the past four games against the Warriors, and their solid shooting from beyond the arc and deep team composition can prove to be a challenge for even the star-studded Warriors to defeat.

 

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