While the Celtics seem optimistic with Kyrie Irving’s long term prospects after knee surgery last week, there’s the immediate reality of a looming post-season run in just over two weeks. This season has turned somewhat into a prelude for next when a healthy Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis return to the team with a potentially re-signed Marcus Smart in tow as well, but Boston is still the #2 seed heading into the playoffs and if we’ve learned anything from this team this year and over the last four, they won’t just lay down.
A first round series could prove difficult against a healthy and talented Milwaukee Bucks team or taxing vs. the relentless Miami Heat. Could the Celtics get to Round 2 without Irving, Smart, Hayward, and Theis?
Jeff Clark: Anything is possibllllllllllle!!!!
Seriously though, it would take a huge series from several of our young players. In particular Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Both are capable of carrying a team for several games and of course Al Horford would be the glue to keep them all together. Sprinkle in some game winning plays by Marcus Smart and a few iso-Mook step up games, and you’re in position to win a first round series. A lot depends on matchups though. It will be very interesting to see who our opponent will be.
Andrew Doxy: If Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum continue their strong offensive play, Boston has a good case over a team like Miami or Milwaukee. The defense will take care of itself because that’s a systemic strength since the beginning of the season, even as injuries have ravaged the team. This team needs to *score* with Kyrie Irving, and Morris and Tatum’s contributions have led to wins recently. With Jaylen Brown and his desire to murder the rim return, that’ll give the other two some breathing room. Add all that with Scary Terry Rozier and you have a team that could probably win a first round series in 6 or 7 without its star player.
Alex Kungu: Matchups, Matchups, Matchups. The two most likely teams to play Boston in Tound 1 are the Heat and the Bucks. Miami is a team that wins with its depth (similar to C’s team last year) and is littered with strong perimeter defenders that would give Boston trouble. On the flip side, Milwaukee is led by Giannis, Middleton, and Bledsoe with Jabari Parker coming back to form. On paper they’re a matchup from hell filled with length and undeniable star power, but in reality they’re an unorganized team that underachieves defensively and consistently settles for mid-range shots. Boston has also had some success limiting Giannis’ impact due to their ability to throw Al Horford on him. Right now the Celtics best strength is coaching and a series against the Bucks would be where it would matter the most. So if you ask me, hope for the Bucks.