Sean Penney: Boston is poised to dethrone the Warriors because they have time on their side. Golden State will remain a force for a few more seasons but eventually the luxury tax penalties will become too punitive to keep the band together. The Celtics may not be able to afford everyone from their current core once they start hitting free agency but they don't have to keep everyone to sustain success. They have plenty of assets to keep the talent pipeline stocked and enviable flexibility moving forward. Boston can remain competitive in the short term while waiting for their window to open once LeBron starts to fade and the super team by the Bay inevitably drifts apart.
Bill Sy: Defense. To beat the Warriors is to defend the Warriors. Over the last two seasons, the Celtics have been the best defensive team against Golden State with a 100.1 DefRtg. It’s no coincidence that they’ve won the last two at Oracle.
Last summer, Boston divulged their “blueprint” on how to defeat Golden State in their pitch to Kevin Durant. Durant would spurn the Celtics and join the Warriors with that information in his pocket, but that doesn’t change the fact that Boston has their number. No other team can boast the same defensive back court rotation of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown to go up against Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Unfortunately, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have to game plan on beating the Warriors and the Cavaliers. What they have that works against Golden State doesn’t exactly work against Cleveland’s size and strength. There’s this wait-and-see mentality that most of my fellow CelticsBloggers have when it comes to the Warriors, but it’s really more relevant for the Cavaliers. LeBron won’t be around forever and the team is already hamstrung in how they can improve their roster. The Celtics will eventually get passed the Cavaliers and when they’re ready to face the Warriors, they’ll be a young, defensive-minded team ready to stop Golden State.
Alex Kungu: Timing. If Boston plays their cards right they'll be in a situation where they have their young lotto studs developing into serious players the same time the Warriors core starts to exit their prime. Flexibility is also another component of this. If the Celtics can land Hayward then they'll most likely do a 3+1 deal which would clear him a year right before Horford. That could potentially mean that the Celtics would have max cap space to sign another young star while the young core starts to come into their own. Of course, that also means that those young players have to prove themselves to be core pieces which is yet to be seen, but if that happens, Celtics have all the tools to be next.
Bobby Manning: It depends more on the Warriors than the Celtics. Now that a ring is in hand, the hope of the Celtics has to be that their players are going to demand top dollar. If Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry get max deals or close to it that could press other guys like Andre Iguodala and later Klay Thompson out down the line. I'd be stunned if they don't take pay cuts and even if they lose those two players down the line, the duo of Curry/Durant is still as good as any in NBA history. Both are young, versatile, and dynamic shooters. On top of that, Durant looks like a guy who can anchor a defense. This isn't a reason for the Celtics to back down though. First off they've improved every year under Brad Stevens, will be better next year even if they only get Markelle Fultz this summer (alongside Yabusele/Zizic/Nader) and most importantly they aren't out west. I also see some Warriors in the Celtics, a few years ago under Mark Jackson Golden State was stuck behind the best of the west and their drafted talent rose to astronomical heights through development as a team. Now together for about three years under Stevens, the Celts are poised to grow within their system around elite young talent like Fultz. It may take another year or two, but Boston is slowly but surely headed to the top. This year also showed it's not hard to be patient if the C's are winning anyway, which is what Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford (in their primes) are for.
Keith Smith: It won't happen this coming year or probably even the next year, but the Celtics are probably best positioned to take down Golden State long term. There is a high likelihood that the Warriors will lose one of their top players in the next few years. In addition, their stars will begin to age a bit, despite still being very good. By that point, the Celtics young players will be ready to take the leap from good to key pieces on a contender. And the Celtics will have added an additional veteran or two to aid in the cause.
And for those who scream "They have to get by Cleveland first!", that is coming. Most around the NBA expect the Cavaliers to break up to some extent over the next two years. They may only be problem for another year. None of this means it will definitely be the Celtics who beat Golden State, but they'll be in the mix. Probably as much or more so than any other Eastern Conference team.