The 2018 N.B.A. Playoffs officially begin tomorrow – yes, welcome to the postseason, basketball fans!
This is one of my favorite postseasons to follow – I do also enjoy playoff hockey as well, but playoff basketball is something I could watch all the time. So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the upcoming N.B.A. playoffs, enjoy!
Care to agree or disagree? Send me a tweet @MattNoonan11 and make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports’ basketball Twitter (@Noontime_Hoops)
As we all know, the Boston Celtics overachieved this season, taking that ‘so-called’ next-step with an impressive Game 7 win earlier this week against the Washington Wizards to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Players like Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley and yes, Kelly Olynyk, have made impressive contributions for the Green and White over the past few weeks.
However, we all know this crew is not ready to contend with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Instead, we, the Celtics fans, have witnessed another brick being added to the foundation. Danny Ainge’s process is slowly coming to fruition, which means the Green and White are inching closer to their ultimate goal of ‘banner number 18.’
It will come, I promise, but it won’t be this season. Maybe it will be next season or the year after, but the Celtics, who certainly exceeded expectations this spring, have proven they deserve a spot at the ‘big boys’ table with Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio.
And while the outcome of this current series certainly favors the Cavaliers – yes, Cleveland dominated the opening game last night, downing the Celtics, 117-104 – Boston must at-least show some fight to keep the excitement on Causeway Street going into next season.
Isaiah Thomas on moving forward vs. Cleveland: “We’ve seen what we did wrong before. Now we just have to execute.”
What the Celtics do following the Cleveland series is an unknown. Yes, there have been speculation, thoughts, tweets and opinions about the Green and White dealing their number one pick or perhaps luring Paul George or Gordon Hayward to Boston, but nothing is official.
If I were Danny Ainge, I would consider trading the top pick or perhaps selecting Markelle Fultz (Washington) or Lonzo Ball (UCLA). I would also be open to welcoming drafting Josh Johnson (Kansas) or Jayson Tatum (Duke) to Boston, too.
For now, just like many of you, I am going to enjoy this current run by the C’s. Yes, it maybe painful at time – who doesn’t want to see Thomas and his teammates defeat ‘The King’ and last year’s champions, but in the back of my mind – like many – I know this is just the beginning of what should be an exciting few years of Celtics basketball.
The future is promising, Green and White fans, so enjoy the remainder of the series and get set for what should be an exciting offseason.
The Boston Celtics have returned to the postseason.
Yep, the “glory days” of Boston Celtics basketball has returned. However, don’t get your hopes up because Brad Stevens – the head coach of the month! – will be guiding a roster of second and third depth chart players against perhaps the ultimate favorite to defeat San Antonio in June (or Golden State).
Boston will once again see LeBron James in the “second season,” but unlike previous matchups, this particular series favors King James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Framingham’s own David Blatt.
That’s right, the Cavaliers are going to win this series, probably in four or five games.
Perhaps six? Well, that would depend, especially if the Celtics could win one (and hopefully two) game(s) on their own parquet.
Yet, no matter the outcome of this series – again, expect Cleveland to win – this is a huge step forward for a team that became the biggest revolving door earlier this season.
Give credit to Stevens and most of the front office as the Green and White became “pit-stop” for a slew of players over the past few months. Players like Tayshaun Prince, Nate Robinson, Jameer Nelson and Austin Rivers stole the headlines when they all landed in the ‘City of Champions’ during Danny Ainge’s ‘Wheeling and Dealing’ escapade. Rajon Rondo was a Celtic – he was on the opening day roster – but was eventually shipped to Dallas.
Once Ainge stopped shuffling the deck, Stevens had a chance to get to know his team – for the most part! – and teach them a style of basketball that resulted in a 40-42 record.
Boston won more games this year, outlasting their 2013-14 squad that captured 25 games, including 16 contests on Causeway Street. This season, the Celtics won 21 games on their home court, 19 on the road, and 12 divisional matchups. Boston also finished 28-24 in the Eastern Conference, but again, don’t let those numbers fool you because the Celtics won’t be playing basketball in May or June (I am sorry, Boston!).
I am a Celtics fan – always have been! – however, I just don’t think this team has what it takes to defeat the second best team in the East. If they were matched up against the Atlanta Hawks, well … I would think they would have a chance. Chicago? Forget it, I like the Bulls because they’ll contend for an Eastern Conference crown.
Boston – on the other hand – should enjoy seeing their beloved Celtics in the playoffs. It is extremely nice to have a winter team extend their season into mid-to-late April, especially after the Bruins’ collapse last weekend. We love having our teams compete in the postseason, we do, but this team won’t be riding Duckboats around Government Center. Instead, most of the players will learn from this opportunity and apply it to next season.
Year number two of Stevens and the Celtics has been a success. They won more games, were competitive with the league’s top teams – remember when they almost beat the Warriors? – and showed they can compete, even if they look like a squad that resembles a college intramural unit.
I am extremely excited to see the Celtics taking a step forward. And now, it is all about playing your best – at least giving your best effort, Brad! – and learning from the experience. I believe in Brad just like I believe in Boston. Better days are ahead for the Green and White, so consider this the start of something special.
All good teams have to go through a “rebuilding” phase in order to contend. Atlanta was a decent team a few years ago and now they’re number one in the Eastern Conference. Toronto wasn’t that good, even when Vince Carter played for the Raptors, but now they’re a 49-win team. And the same could be said for Milwaukee, but the Bucks won 41 games, not 49.
Let’s all enjoy this series – please do the best you can to enjoy it, but remember that while Cleveland is indeed the favorite, Boston will one day be in their shoes and ready to contend for Banner 18.
Happy Tuesday to everyone, and welcome into yet another edition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kickstart the day with some news, headlines and more news from the city of Boston.
* Paced by BrandonBass, who deposited 27 points, Boston defeated Philadelphia, 101-85 on Monday in Game No. 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Boston now leads the series, 3-2, and will attempt to conclude the series on Wednesday when both squads return to the hardwood in Philadelphia for an 8PM match.
* Excluding Bass, Kevin Garnettpoured in 20 points, Rajon Rondoadded 13 points and dished out 14 assists, and Paul Piercefinished the contest with 16 points and four defensive rebounds.
* According to the NBA stat crew, Bass netted 18 of his 27 points in the third quarter, which is the highest point total during this particular NBA postseason in one quarter. LeBron Jamestallied 17 points against the New York Knicks in his team’s first round series, but that particular statistic has officially been erased.
* Trailing Baltimore late in the game, Boston’s bats sparked a three-run rally — two in the seventh, one in the eighth — to earn an 8-6 victory against the first place Orioles on Monday. David Ortizhit his 10th home run of the season, while Mike Avilesrecorded his 28th RBI in the win.
* The Sox have now won four of their last five contests, and will look to earn their 22nd win of the season on Tuesday when Felix Doubrontpitches against Brian Matusz at 7:05PM.