The stage is set 5 years from now. The Celtics are coming off of their 19th NBA Championship led by 2x NBA Coach of the Year Brad Stevens. Now, their back and facing their long-time rival Golden State Warriors. Of course, before the Celtics got to the 2023 NBA Championship they had to go through a much more competitive Eastern Conference.
First, they made quick work of the mediocre Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozen still keeps the Raptors just good enough to compete, which has hindered their ability to land a top draft pick or compete seriously for a championship.
Then the Celtics had to go through the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Jackson have propelled the 76ers past the 5th seeded Washington Wizards. Even with the best point guard in the league and MVP, John Wall, they were unable to best the Sixers. The surge of long-time Celtic Isaiah Thomas off the bench the Celtics defeated “The Process” in a quick 5 game series.
The biggest threat in the East to the reigning champs comes through Milwaukee. After years of failure, Giannis Antetokounmpo finally propelled his team past his mentor, LeBron James. With James regressing to a more conservative style of basketball to prolong his career Kyrie Irving is thrust into the teams’ #1 option. But, that’s simply not enough to defeat their 3 All-Star’s Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and of course The Greek Freak. The Bucks are a tough task for the C’s. Luckily, Milwaukee had no answer for Boston’s two big men DeAndre Ayton and Al Horford. Ayton, the #1 pick from the 2018 draft, was especially impressive. He averaged 18 PPG, 11 RPG and 2.5 BPG completely dominating the Bucks. And you can’t forgot Big Al. His decision to return to the Celtics following his max contract for much more team-friendly rate helped push the team through the season.
Finally, the Celtics meet the Warriors for yet another NBA Finals battle. The Warriors have kept their core of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry together throughout the years. While there were offseason rumors of Klay Thompson possibly returning after his stint with the Mavericks, nothing materialized. For the past 5 years the Warriors have appeared in 3 NBA Championships. On two occasions the Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio Spurs were able defeat Golden State, but they haven’t been as strong since Kyle Lowry announced his retirement last summer. So, the Warriors easily beat them in 5 games.
The series between Boston and Golden State went the distance. A full 7 game series of back and forth battles that came down to the final seconds where Jaylen Brown nailed a fadeaway jump shot to win it all. At the end of the day, the Celtics starters were just too much for the Warriors to handle. But you can’t blame Golden State, no one could match-up with Boston. I mean how do you stop, 3x All-Star Markelle Fultz, 1st Team All-Defense Marcus Smart, 2x All-Star & Dunk Champion Jaylen Brown, long time Celtics great Al Horford and 2018 Rookie of the Year DeAndre Ayton. Add in 6th Man of the Year Isaiah Thomas and you have a team that seems unbeatable. The Celtics then raise their 20th banner high in TD Garden in front of the Boston faithful.
You may read this article and laugh but I warn you, this COULD happen. In 5 years, Thomas and Horford will be older and cost much less. Marcus Smart is already an elite defender, so if he earns the starting role don’t be surprised if he makes the jump. The Celtics own the 1st overall selection this year and seem to have next year’s all, but locked up which could turn into Markelle Fultz and DeAndre Ayton. If you didn’t know, Fultz and Ayton are presumed to be future NBA stars. The scenario I presented is 100% realistic. Will it happen? Maybe. Maybe not. Only time will tell, but I think it’s safe to say, it’s good to be a Celtics fan.