After enduring a grueling seven-game series and winning Game 7 by a score of 115-105 against the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, for most #1 seeds, reaching the Conference Finals isn’t an unexpected feat, but this Celtics team isn’t your average #1 seed. Despite a fantastic season that resulted in a 53-29 record, many expected the Celtics to lose in the first round to the 8th seeded Chicago Bulls. After falling to an 0-2 series hole, the Celtics pulled off four straight wins to advance to the second round. Once there, many again expected the Celtics to lose and picked the Wizards to win the series.
Led by Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have overcome a lot of adversity and have proven many doubters wrong in these playoffs to show why they were the #1 seed. This harkens back to the trade deadline. With the Celtics linked to many trade rumors for players, such as Paul George and Jimmy Butler, GM Danny Ainge decided not to trade away any of the team’s plethora of rotation pieces, young players, or draft picks. Keeping the roster as is was enough to get the #1 seed and has ultimately proven to be enough to at least reach the Conference Finals.
Granted, adding George or Butler would’ve given the Celtics a formidable trio in the Eastern Conference next to Thomas and Al Horford. However, it’s unknown how well or how quickly either player would have integrated themselves into the team, especially players of their caliber, who haven’t needed to play off the ball as much as they likely would in Boston. Guys like Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and/or Avery Bradley would have likely been gone in any potential trade, and they’ll all proven to be very valuable in what the Celtics do.
As the Eastern Conference Finals begin Wednesday night, the Celtics will host the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. They obviously aren’t the favorites in this Conference Finals matchup, but simply making it there is an impressive achievement in and of itself. This Celtics team is far from the most talented or dominant we’ve seen, but they play hard, play well together, play for each other, and simply work on both ends of the court. Even if this ends up being a rather short series, we should commend Danny Ainge for believing in this roster and giving it a chance before prematurely making any drastic moves. Patience is key, and any potential drastic move can wait until the off-season. With trade assets aplenty and ample cap space available, patience is something the Celtics can afford to show and was right to show it, at least for now.
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