Choose Your Own Adventure: What is your reasonably realistic path to the Finals for the Celtics?

koufax32

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Dec 8, 2006
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Playoff seeding is pretty fluid with about two weeks left. In a perfect world. I think things would fall the following way for BOS:

1st round: CHI or Indy
2nd round: a NYY team without OG or Randle (see recent comments on ESPN from a teammate)
ECF: A battered/hobbled MIL
Finals: MIN

I want to avoid explosive scorers as much as possible but can’t avoid it in the ECF.
 

InstaFace

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My preference is to play the best teams who aren't likely to seriously injure us as they try and fail to stop us. If it weren't for the injury risk, I'd be happy playing (say) the Heat, or the Sixers who now have Lowry. But other than that, I want to see us tested, so that when the season comes down to the wire we're as prepared as we could be, as ready to give our best. So give me:

ECQF: Pacers. They're 2 games up on the 8 seed but I suppose could slip. We need practice containing Haliburton if we want to get fully ready for Edwards or Murray.

ECSF: Cleveland. I think the Knicks would play us harder but between Garland and Mitchell, our defense will need to get used to being as connected and in-rhythm as possible. If we stay focused we win every game by 20, but getting in the reps has a lot of value.

ECF: A healthy Milwaukee. I actually think we roll them, like max 5 games. They showed plenty of depth a few weeks ago in almost beating us without Giannis, but in some ways, we have built this team to be a Giannis stopper, what with Jaylen / Horford / Tillman. Jrue had a bad game a few weeks ago, he won't have one come playoff time. I want the wisdom of our roster construction to be proven out in how comprehensively we can stop a team that actually has the best player on the floor against us. If it's a fully healthy Knicks squad, might be more of a rock fight, but we have out-coached them 4 straight times this season, too.

NBAF: Denver. Yeah that's right, I said it. I want the respect that will come from beating the champs, the team with the best player, the one everyone says is the best in the West come playoff time. If it's OKC or MIN, I'm still confident. Denver probably has a better chance to beat us. But we're built to be as lethal as any team could be against what they do well, staying home on perimeter shooters as often as we do, and playing 5-out on offense. Let the league witness the firepower of this fully operational battle station.

(please stay healthy. Jaylen get your wrist looked at please, and see you in a week.)
 
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NoXInNixon

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No one in the East should even take the Celtics to a game 6. Barring major injury, they should crush everyone. If they lose before the Finals, the season will be a total catastrophe.
 

Kliq

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You've got to beat the best teams to win a title. The Celtics are capable of doing that. I can't get too worked up about playoff seeding and potential matchups or anything like that. There is no way to waltz to a championship unless star players all get injured.
 

amlothi

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Playoff seeding is pretty fluid with about two weeks left. In a perfect world. I think things would fall the following way for BOS:

1st round: CHI or Indy
2nd round: a NYY team without OG or Randle (see recent comments on ESPN from a teammate)
ECF: A battered/hobbled MIL
Finals: MIN

I want to avoid explosive scorers as much as possible but can’t avoid it in the ECF.
I'd love to see them destroy the NYY, but don't see it happening.
 

DGreenwood

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You've got to beat the best teams to win a title. The Celtics are capable of doing that. I can't get too worked up about playoff seeding and potential matchups or anything like that. There is no way to waltz to a championship unless star players all get injured.
It's crazy how Denver won last year without playing anybody who was considered a serious contender for the title. They played an 8 seed, 4 seed, 7 seed, and an 8 seed; in that order. The only way it could have been easier is if they played the Clippers instead of the Suns in the second round (5 seed instead of 4 seed, so not a big difference), which would have been the easiest possible path in regard to seeding. Has there been an easier one than that?

 

moondog80

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It's crazy how Denver won last year without playing anybody who was considered a serious contender for the title. They played an 8 seed, 4 seed, 7 seed, and an 8 seed; in that order. The only way it could have been easier is if they played the Clippers instead of the Suns in the second round (5 seed instead of 4 seed, so not a big difference), which would have been the easiest possible path in regard to seeding. Has there been an easier one than that?

A little misleading in that some (all?) of those teams were better than their seeding by the time playoffs rolled around. Certainly after Minnesota. But yes, they didn't play anyone that seemed like a legit, top-tier title contender.
 

Kliq

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It's crazy how Denver won last year without playing anybody who was considered a serious contender for the title. They played an 8 seed, 4 seed, 7 seed, and an 8 seed; in that order. The only way it could have been easier is if they played the Clippers instead of the Suns in the second round (5 seed instead of 4 seed, so not a big difference), which would have been the easiest possible path in regard to seeding. Has there been an easier one than that?

Yeah, I'd chalk that up to a pretty weak field of contenders overall, especially in the West where the Kings were a 3 seed. You also had key injuries to the Bucks with Giannis getting hurt early in Round 1 which helped set up the Heat running all the way to the finals. The Celtics obviously grossly underachieved as well.

This year I think the West might actually be weaker, despite what a lot of people seem to think. Minnesota and OKC both significantly lack post-season experience, and then you have the dearth of flawed veteran teams that maybe can go on a run but also have massive question marks and it's hard to see them giving a healthy Denver too much trouble. The Clippers would probably be my #2 pick in the West, but obviously have a lot of questions that could lead to them flopping hard in the playoffs.

The East I think is better than the West. The Celtics look great, I think Milwaukee is going to be a really tough out, and the Heat obviously have a great postseason pedigree. We will see how Embiid looks coming back, but if he looks pretty good, that is a pretty dangerous lower-seeded team, probably more dangerous than any of the sleeping giants in the West play-in bracket. The Knicks and Cavs to me are closer to the Minnesota/OKC level of being interesting but relatively untested.
 

lovegtm

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I'm not as into the "Miami injures everyone!" thing. It's mostly residual Rondo trauma. They're going to be grabby and physical, but I don't think they're a particular injury risk.

If you buy that this team is a lot better (talent and mentally), and is going to take care of business, I can see wanting to play the Heat. They are going to throw all the curveballs at you that anyone would, and do so early on. There is some value in that.

I thought the Bucks benefitted from being able to roll Miami and exorcise those demons during the 2021 title run.
 

Ed Hillel

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I want to avoid 2 things - Embiided Sixers in the first round (though his conditioning would be lol) and a fully operational Knicks squad (odds on this might be decreasing). Other than that, bring it on, and honestly I’d love drawing the Heat first. CRUSH.
 

snowmanny

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On the other hand, the traditional route of crushing the Hawks and then the Knicks and then the Sixers and then the Lakers would bring back so many memories.
 

bankshot1

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As Dorothy from Kansas (a Jayhawk fan, she loved Pierce) reminds us, and as this edition of your Boston Celtics has bought into:

There's no place like home.

So my adventure calls for a lot of home games.

I could see the 76ers or the Heat in the 1st round. A healthy Embiid could be a PitA, and he might drop 45 or 50, but he may be too rested and the 76ers are not as good as the Celts. At worse that should be a 5-6 game series.

But Spo and a physical Heat team could be a problem and if the league decides to adopt a let 'em play posture, the Heat could negate the massive talent gap and slow this down, get real handsy and play this in the mud and in the Celts head. Sadly the Cs seem to have a post-season backbone and resolve only slightly stiffer than a jelly fish and knees that buckle under pressure. And Spo knows the pressure points and when to press them.

And I hate saying that.

If the Celts can play this on the court and not in their heads, they should beat the Heat in a gentleman's 5. But fuck Spo and triple fuck Pat Riley, he's no gentleman. Shiv him before he shivs you.

With my emerald green shades firmly in place, IMO there is no team that should beat them in the East. Bucks are hard to figure, a healthy Knicks team could be a battle

But the Celts are simply better.

I think there is one team that could beat them in a 7-gamer. Maybe. But I still think the Celts are deeper and more talented than Denver. And we have G7.

IF the Celts play D/transition basketball/spread the floor/play aggressive/move the ball and attack the basket (the ball that they can play and has its roots in Red Auerbach's limited playbook, written on the back of a Bob Lee's Islander take out menu), they will win and win big . They have more talent, speed and depth than any other team. There will be games they miss their 3-balls, but if they play the game with a flow and pace they will make their shots as they will get great open looks. And they might even decide to attack the basket rather than get sucked into the all too predictable and easier to defend ISO ball they seem to like to run as they piss away late leads.

 

j-man

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Dec 19, 2012
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boston is the best team only maybe denver couild go 7 and that because none of your post can grurd joker i hope u sweep milw

honestly its champions or bust OKC is too young Minn will miss towns clips are too old NO wouild just be happy to be there
 

j-man

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Dec 19, 2012
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1st round indy i like the way they play
2nd round cle stop mitchell and it couild be a sweep
3rd round milw they dont play def
firlas den or Clips anyone but the lakers
 

nighthob

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I'm not as into the "Miami injures everyone!" thing. It's mostly residual Rondo trauma.
I mean Miami defenders literally go out of their way to step under shooters and rebounders, which carries significant injury risk. It really has nothing to to with Rondo and everything to do with the sheer number of players that get injured while playing them because they landed on someone’s foot while shooting or going up for a rebound.
 

mikeford

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There is no reasonable path that doesn't end with beating Denver in the finals. There is no way it's not Denver at the end of the road.
 

benhogan

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The East I think is better than the West. The Celtics look great, I think Milwaukee is going to be a really tough out, and the Heat obviously have a great postseason pedigree. We will see how Embiid looks coming back, but if he looks pretty good, that is a pretty dangerous lower-seeded team, probably more dangerous than any of the sleeping giants in the West play-in bracket. The Knicks and Cavs to me are closer to the Minnesota/OKC level of being interesting but relatively untested.
FWIW head-to-head the West is crushing the East.

I can't imagine thinking the EC is better other than it was an early season take & you're still running with it.

This LAL fan feels the Lakers are as good as the Bucks, which is kind of humorous. Biases are strong.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Q6o38mm3_Tw
 

TomRicardo

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For the Celtics to not make the finals, someone in the East would have to do something that no one in the East has done all season, win in Boston.
 

Kliq

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FWIW head-to-head the West is crushing the East.

I can't imagine thinking the EC is better other than it was an early season take & you're still running with it.

This LAL fan feels the Lakers are as good as the Bucks, which is kind of humorous. Biases are strong.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Q6o38mm3_Tw
I think it's as simple as the East has two legit title contenders in Boston and Milwaukee and I think the West really only has one in Denver. The play-in tier in the West feels more fearsome than the East, but if you believe in Miami in the playoffs, and a mostly-healthy Embiid, I'd take the East play-in teams over the West play-in teams. I'm also down on OKC/Minnesota as playoff teams, which probably makes me a lot lower on the West than other people. I'm concerned about Minnesota's offense in the playoffs, especially without Towns, and OKC lacks experience and size outside of Chet.
 

benhogan

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I think it's as simple as the East has two legit title contenders in Boston and Milwaukee and I think the West really only has one in Denver. The play-in tier in the West feels more fearsome than the East, but if you believe in Miami in the playoffs, and a mostly-healthy Embiid, I'd take the East play-in teams over the West play-in teams. I'm also down on OKC/Minnesota as playoff teams, which probably makes me a lot lower on the West than other people. I'm concerned about Minnesota's offense in the playoffs, especially without Towns, and OKC lacks experience and size outside of Chet.
Vegas says 6 of the top 8 live in the West Conference.
Go further than that, the Lakers & Warriors are tied with the Knicks & Miami and ahead of the Cavs, Pacers, 76ers.
That's about as lopsided as it can get, Odds-wise, since only one team makes it out of the WC.

Erik Spoelstra is probably the best playoff Coach in the NBA, but they lack the horses.
The Bucks are worse than last season & Playoff Embiid is comically hidden by the media.

I could care less who lines up against the Celtic buzzsaw in the EC. Would be surprised if Boston lost more than 3 games before the Finals.

https://sports.betmgm.com/en/blog/nba/finals-odds-championship-nba-betting-bm05/
 

Kliq

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Vegas says 6 of the top 8 live in the West Conference.
Go further than that, the Lakers & Warriors are tied with the Knicks & Miami and ahead of the Cavs, Pacers, 76ers.
That's about as lopsided as it can get, Odds-wise, since only one team makes it out of the WC.

Erik Spoelstra is probably the best playoff Coach in the NBA, but they lack the horses.
The Bucks are worse than last season & Playoff Embiid is comically hidden by the media.

I could care less who lines up against the Celtic buzzsaw in the EC. Would be surprised if Boston lost more than 3 games before the Finals.

https://sports.betmgm.com/en/blog/nba/finals-odds-championship-nba-betting-bm05/
The Lakers and the Warriors are both public teams and have inflated odds, you know that.
 

InstaFace

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For the Celtics to not make the finals, someone in the East would have to do something that no one in the East has done all season, win in Boston.
Detroit took us to OT at home, easily could have won that game. Milwaukee lost by 3, twice. Toronto came within 2, Washington within 4. That we've won all 5 of those games instead of going 4-1 or 3-2 I think says more about randomness than it does about some impregnable ability we have at home.

(and I'd say the same, only reversed, about losing both in Atlanta, or our OT losses on the road, etc - there's not some morality story here or narrative we can take from that)
 

TomRicardo

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I guess the Lakers/Warriors have a large betting bias? @HomeRunBaker or @Red Averages probably could answer that question better than myself.

BUT I do see them being more troublesome as an 8 seed than those 3 EC teams (Cavs, Pacers, 76ers) in the playoffs.
Considering currently only one of those teams can even make the playoffs and they will need a win or go home game on the road against Phoenix, Dallas, Sacramento, or New Orleans... yes.
 

benhogan

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Considering currently only one of those teams can even make the playoffs and they will need a win or go home game on the road against Phoenix, Dallas, Sacramento, or New Orleans... yes.
Also may indicate how bad those 3 EC teams are (or good the Celtics are)

The Knicks have a pretty sizeable, rabid fan base. Why aren't they pushing the odds?
 

TomRicardo

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Also may indicate how bad those 3 EC teams are (or good the Celtics are)
The Lakers and Warriors should be 9 and 10 in odds in their conference. Lakers have been ridiculously healthy and are still in ninth. Golden State is always in a volatile state with Draymond so having him gone part of the year is not an aberration. There is a world where someone likes the Rockets over the Warriors.

Edit - Yea Vegas is going to take the Celtics over all of the East by a wide margin. The Celtics lapped the field.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Vegas says 6 of the top 8 live in the West Conference.
Go further than that, the Lakers & Warriors are tied with the Knicks & Miami and ahead of the Cavs, Pacers, 76ers.
That's about as lopsided as it can get, Odds-wise, since only one team makes it out of the WC.
Saw the tag and read upthread but I’ll respond to multiple posts here.

#1 - Lakers and Warriors don’t have a betting bias. They are currently 7th and 9th to come out of the West.

#2 - 6 of the top 8 are in the WC due to the Celtics being such heavy favorites to come out of the East (-140) with only Milwaukee (-300) lower than -1100 as there is a much larger gap from 3 down in the betting market. The West is bunched up due to it being much more competitive.

#3 - Read a couple posts today about the Celtics running through the playoffs with only a couple losses and no Game 6’s….which while possible is an extremely unlikely scenario. The 08 Celtics went to 7-games like every series, Red’s legendary Celtics run requires many many Game 7’s, some vs .500 teams, and they only played 2 rounds back then. So yeah, expectations are a little out of whack here imo.
 

Euclis20

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Saw the tag and read upthread but I’ll respond to multiple posts here.

#1 - Lakers and Warriors don’t have a betting bias. They are currently 7th and 9th to come out of the West.

#2 - 6 of the top 8 are in the WC due to the Celtics being such heavy favorites to come out of the East (-140) with only Milwaukee (-300) lower than -1100 as there is a much larger gap from 3 down in the betting market. The West is bunched up due to it being much more competitive.

#3 - Read a couple posts today about the Celtics running through the playoffs with only a couple losses and no Game 6’s….which while possible is an extremely unlikely scenario. The 08 Celtics went to 7-games like every series, Red’s legendary Celtics run requires many many Game 7’s, some vs .500 teams, and they only played 2 rounds back then. So yeah, expectations are a little out of whack here imo.
On #3, maybe it's hopeful to believe that the Celtics could jog through the East with nothing more than some small speed bumps, but the 08 Celtics were a total aberration when it comes to playoff difficulties. The 08 Celtics lost eight games in the EC playoffs, let's compare that to other teams that were top 10 all-time in net rating (08 Celtics were 6th all-time, 24 Celtics are currently 3rd all-time) and won the title (excluding the 16 Warriors and 16 Spurs):

96 Bulls: 1 loss
97 Bulls: 2 losses
17 Warriors: 0 losses
92 Bulls: 5 losses
71 Bucks: 2 losses (just two series)
72 Lakers: 2 losses (just two series)
15 Warriors: 3 losses

The 2008 Celtics were an aberration for title teams in general - that team played 26 games total that year, the record for most ever. Based solely on their performance this year (compared with how similarly dominant title teams have played), it's not unreasonable or out of whack to expect Boston to skate through the EC playoffs.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Regardless of who they play, they need to avoid having too many elimination games. Last year they had to win 5 before bowing out in the 6th. Miami, who beat them, only had to play 1 before and another during the finals. Denver who won it all played zero.

The year before, Boston had to play 3 to get to the finals, and then they went out in their 4th, during the finals. The Warriors never faced elimination.

It seemed like the 2008 Celtics had a long road to the finals, but they only played 2 elimination games - both games 7.

Some of that could be a function of team quality, of course.

But I don;t think there's a recent example of a playoff team facing elimination a lot and still managing to win.
 
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