The trade deadline came and went without any moves from Boston as General Manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston Celtics front office have decided to stick with the nucleus intact in hopes of a trip to the Finals.
With many speculations now in the rear view about whether or not Ainge was willing to deal Kyrie Irving before the deadline after his questionable comments about his commitment to Boston last Friday. The Celtics will now make a run at the top spot in the East with the same roster with less than three months remaining in the regular season.
Making a Run at the top spot in the East
We can’t say whether or not Boston has finally found some consistency, we’ve seen them go on a winning streak and then lose a couple of games to team not in the playoff picture.
Boston has won 10 of their last 11 games, with the only lost coming against the Golden State Warriors. They’ve shown us they can be a championship level team based on their brilliant performance against the Warriors and against Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday. They outlasted the dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who both have been in the MVP discussion this season.
Boston currently sits in the third seed in the East just three and a half games behind Toronto for second place and five and a half games behind Milwaukee for the number one seed. Milwaukee currently has the best record in the East and NBA at 40-13, and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t be slept on after making a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, who’s averaging a career high 20.9 points per game this season.
Boston’s Marcus Morris Sr, isn’t sold on the new look Sixers, “Great pick up, not enough though,” wrote Morris on the comment section of a Belcher Report Instagram post.
Are the Celtics still the Clear Cut Favorite to win the East?
With the East as stacked as ever, do the odds still play in the Celtics favor to represent the East in the Finals. We can argue that the top four teams in the East, in the Bucks, Sixers, Toronto Raptors and Celtics have a shot at giving Golden State fits in the Finals, even potential push them to seven games.
Head coach of the Bucks, Mike Budenholzer has unlocked the Bucks offense with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way putting up MVP numbers with 27 ppg, 12.4 rebounds a game and 5.9 assists per game. Before the deadline the Bucks added Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans. Mirotic was an important piece for the Pelicans during the postseason last year and has continued to play well this season averaging 16.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg.
The Sixers have formed their own big four of Harris, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. General Manager, Elton Brand and the front office will stick with these four players alongside JJ Reddick for the foreseeable future, and will look to resign both Harris and Butler this off-season.
Just an hour before the trade deadline the Raptors landed Marc Gasol from Memphis, which improves their center position as opposed to having Jonás Valanciunas, who was included in the trade. A starting five of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Gasol will be interesting to see as the goal for President, Masaji Ujiri, is to make the Finals in hopes of resigning free agent to be, Leonard.
As for Boston, chemistry and consistency is what’s keeping this team from competition night in and night out at a Golden State Warrior level. We’ve seen them pick up big wins against the Sixers, Raptors and even sweeping the Thunder this season, but it’s their inconsistency that’s kept Boston from being mentioned as a clear cut favorite from reaching the Finals. Gordon Hayward has yet to find his groove, but on the bright side Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier have found their role coming off the bench.
The Celtics play LeBron James and the Lakers tonight at TD Garden, and will test out the newly formed big four in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 12.