Are the dominant Boston Celtics on a collision course with the NBA Finals?

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks
Boston Celtics v New York Knicks / Elsa/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics entered the 2023–24 season with the third-best odds to win the NBA Finals, according to ESPN. We're now past the all-star break and the Celtics sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 46-12 record, which is seven-and-a-half games ahead of the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. It's safe to say that Boston has separated itself from everyone else in the East, but by how much?

Though the gap does appear to be quite sizeable, saying that Boston is guaranteed to win the East is false because a lot can happen from now until the Eastern Conference Finals. All we can do is take what we have now and form the most accurate answer possible.

Well, the Celtics own the third-best offense in the conference at 120.7 points per game, only trailing the Indiana Pacers (123.9) and the Atlanta Hawks (121.2). As for the defensive side, they own the fourth-best defense in the conference at 110.2 points allowed per game—the only team in the top four in both categories.

Is it safe to say that the Celtics are a lock to win the Eastern Conference?

Boston only trails the Cavs (109.3), the New York Knicks (109.9), and the Miami Heat (109.9) in opponent's points. Those two stats combined give Boston an average plus-minus of 10.4, sitting five points ahead of the next closest team, the Cavs, with a plus-minus of 5.2.

The Celtics also sit atop the East in defensive rebounds per game (36.5), total rebounds per game (47.1), blocks per game (6.6), three-pointers made and attempted per game (16.1m - 42.3 a), and three-point percentage (38.2).

Most of that success has come against Eastern Conference teams, of course. Boston has played 39 of their 58 games played against Eastern Conference teams, owning a 33-6 record in those matchups, with the Milwaukee Bucks being the nest closest team with a 27-13 conference record. They've gone 21-6 against Eastern Conference teams currently sitting at the eighth seed or higher while going 12-0 against teams sitting ninth or lower.

The TD Garden, home of the Celtics, is arguably the hardest place to play in, as Boston owns a 23-0 home record against the East and a league-best 27-3 overall record at home. They're just as dangerous on the road, going 10-6 on the road against the East and 19-9 overall in away games—only them and the Cavs (18-9) own road records with less than 10 losses in the NBA.

To make matters more impressive, the Celtics have faced the second-hardest schedule in the entire league thus far, only behind the Orlando Magic for the top spot. With 24 games left, eight of those come against the Charlotte Hornets (15-43), Portland Trail Blazers (15-42), Detroit Pistons (9-49), and Washington Wizards (9-49), seemingly cruising to the postseason.

The dominant Boston Celtics are on a collision course with the NBA Finals.

The stats certainly show that the Boston Celtics dominate the East, but it will be their depth and talent that will get them by in the postseason. Jayson Tatum has been a clear-cut 1A on a championship team since his rookie year, when he went toe-to-toe with a prime LeBron James.

Jaylen Brown is the perfect compliment to Tatum, proving he can be the lead guy on any given day, but he has to prove himself this postseason after some disappointing go-arounds individually over the past few years. But it'll be the "others" that will make the difference come April. Derrick White is coming off an All-Defensive First Team and is arguably the best defensive guard in the league.

Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday have fit in perfectly in this Boston rotation due to their unique skillsets, high IQ, and two-way prowess—having the ability to consistently pour in points whenever the opponent's coverage on the two stars is heavy. Then you go down the line and look at Payton Pritchard, Al Horford, Sam Hauser, and Luke Kornett—spot-up shooters who know their role and do it very well.

All factors considered, the Boston Celtics have all the tools to get through the Easter Conference with ease. Though the Heat won the East last year, it's the Celtics' conference title for the taking. But time will tell all.