Two seasons ago the Boston Celtics squeaked into the 2015 playoffs, only to be swept by LeBron James and his Cavaliers. Entering the new 2016-17 campaign, it seems as if that same evolving Boston core from two years ago is now the Eastern Conference's best shot at contending with the NBA champions. NBA.com analyst David Aldridge, promotes the idea of Boston's potential:

Boston looks loaded. The Celtics have an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas, strong role players in Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Marcus Smart and a Lottery pick in Jaylen Brown. Add to that the 30-year-old Horford, a four-time All-Star who fits right in to what coach Brad Stevens wants to do. He’s a leader, a passer and a scorer -- all wrapped up in a 6-foot-10 package.

What are Celtics fans looking forward to the most with this current squad? Possibly some are excited about watching their two All-Stars play together for the first time, maybe others are ready to see current and future top draft picks like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart develop through the teams system. Whichever the case, these are only a couple of provided examples on a long list with many possibilities moving ahead.

However, at the moment it is tough to say that this roster is fully equipped to take down a superteam like the Cavs. Yet, clearly Aldridge believes they have a legitimate shot:

It says here that the Celtics will reach the conference finals and give Cleveland six good games before falling, and that Celtics head honcho Danny Ainge is closer than he’s ever been to rebuilding the team a second time, after dealing away the Big Three in pieces as he said he’d have to do sooner rather than later.

Who knows, it is possible that other top Eastern Conference contenders from last season either got worse or remained relatively the same. Miami, Toronto, and Atlanta all arguably fall into that category with their offseason activity. While the Celtics, without a doubt added the right pieces that will surely make them better than the year before.

Coach Brad Stevens will certainly make sure he has his team focused on getting out of the first round, which is a reasonable goal considering that he has yet to advance into the second round. With new improvements, expectations may be higher than just surviving a round of playoff action, something that this Celtics team will be fully aware of.

Photo Credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Follow Spencer Tawes on Twitter: @SWTawes

Spencer Tawes 10/06/2016 10:00:00 AM Edit
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