Boston Celtics: Kings of the East?

Isaiah C., Contributer

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     The Boston Celtics are currently the team that everyone is expecting to win the East. LeBron’s decision to join the Lakers was a big factor to how they became the arguably best team in the East. Their team also is not entirely based around their superstars, but the Celtics have key components that make them the favorites to win the East.

     This offseason, LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, locked into a four year contract. In the previous Eastern Conference Playoffs, LeBron and the Cavaliers went against the Celtics, and won the series 4-3, eliminating the Celtics and going to the Finals, where they got swept by the Warriors 4-0. With LeBron leaving the East, the East and West just became more unbalanced. LeBron was the obstacle that held the Celtics from going on to the finals, but in the summer, he moved to the West. This made the path to the NBA Finals even easier.

     During the playoffs, the Boston Celtics went all the way to the Eastern Conference finals without their two superstars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. According to ESPN, Irving was recovering from a knee surgery during the playoffs, and Hayward suffered a fractured ankle in the 2017-2018 season opener, and was out for the whole season. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier were the players that stepped up their game up the most to compensate for the absence of their two stars. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the two young stars, were the best performers in the playoffs. Al Horford was also a very reliable All-Star throughout the Celtics’s run, and was another key asset. Terry Rozier was also dominant in the playoffs, and filled in the role of starting point guard well. According to Sports Illustrated, Terry Rozier was drafted in the 2015-2016 draft with the 16th pick. During his first few years in the NBA, he struggled. But the 2017-2018 postseason was when he was given the chance to prove himself, and he did. When interviewed by ClutchPoints about the time he got good, Rozier replied, “I have always been an elite player. These first couple years [in the NBA] were tough, because I was given so little opportunities. The 2017-2018 playoffs were exactly what I needed to show my skills.” The Celtics have an intimidating starting lineup, consisting of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier as the likely sixth man. That is arguably the best starting lineup in the East, assuming no one gets a major injury.

     All in all, LeBron was the biggest obstacle in the East that was holding the Celtics back from going to the Finals. However, he is in the West now. Their starting lineup is probably the deadliest one in the East if they stay healthy. Their health can be one of the risks that can hurt their chances of winning the Eastern Conference Finals and going on to the 2018-2019 NBA Finals.