The Boston Celtics surprised many teams and fans around the league last season by making the playoffs, but do the Celtics have what it takes to actually win a playoff series?
Eastern Conference Playoff predictions
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Next season, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat (if healthy) and Chicago Bulls will be the favorites to make it to the NBA Finals, while teams like the Washington Wizards, and Milwaukee Bucks will be the next line of favorites, Then, the Celtics, and the Indiana Pacers will fight for that last playoffs spot, probably along with the Toronto Raptors . The Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets could also be in the mix, but they will probably fall short.
Now, where do the Celtics stand?
The Celtics earned the seven-seed last season, and the team was swept by the Cavs, but the Celtics competed in every game. That was a bad matchup for the Celtics because the Cavs’ frontcourt, and some guy named LeBron James was far too strong down in the paint for the Celtics’ frontcourt. This is why the Celtics added a few new players in the frontcourt like Amir Johnson, David Lee, and rookie Jordan Mickey. These frontcourt players will make the Celtics a little better in the paint on the defensive end, and a lot better in the paint on the offensive end.
If the Celtics face the Cavs again next season in the first-round of the playoffs, the team will lose pretty easily again, but not many other potential playoff teams should scare the Celtics. The Bulls do have a strong frontcourt, but they struggle on the offensive end, and the Hawks had the same problems as the Celtics did against the Cavs with their froncourt. The Celtics would have a tough time against the Bulls in a seven-game series because of their overall physicality, and the team would struggle against the Hawks because of their great offensive game. The Celtics could compete with any other team in a seven-game series except for those three teams.
What seed are the Celtics looking at?
The team has the opportunity to make a push for the six or seven-seed next season if the team plays to their potential. Marcus Smart needs to have a big sophomore season on both ends of the floor, Avery Bradley will need to shoot better from deep, and the team will need the froncourt to protect the paint better than they did last season. Froncourt defense is key for the Celtics and rebounding because the team was always exposed when opposing teams dominated down in the paint. Isaiah Thomas should pick up right where he left off and hopefully he can forget about his terrible shooting numbers from postseason.
The rookies for the Celtics like R.J. Hunter and Mickey should be able to give the team a boost. Hunter should help with his knockdown shooting, and Mickey could help with his rim-protection.
The Celtics did not get worse, the team got better and added more depth. The rest of the east also got better, but many of the middle tier teams stayed the same. If the Celtics play a team like the Wizards, Heat, Bucks, or Raptors the team should have a shot of winning that series.
The Celtics are not a sure thing to make the playoffs next season, but if the team makes the playoffs for a second consecutive year, the team will certainly not go down without a fight. The Celtics now have the players and depth to compete in a long playoff series.
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