After 82 regular-season games the Boston Celtics sit alone atop the NBA's Eastern Conference. They'll head into the postseason with the 1st overall seed in the conference and homecourt throughout their road to the NBA finals. In his fourth season as Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has piloted his team back to relevance in remarkable fashion:
No. 1 seed and No. 1 lottery odds in year 4 of rebuild. Not bad.— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) April 13, 2017
In an era where most teams want to be at the bottom of the league if they aren't at the very top, the Celtics managed to grow each and every year by adding talent both through the draft and acquiring underutilized players from other teams. After the addition of Al Horford last offseason it was time for the Celtics to make the next step. A lot of NBA experts thought they had good shot at taking the 2nd seed in the conference, but nobody had them finishing in 1st.
They've managed to turn themselves into a legitimate contender at getting to the NBA finals and they've done it without mortgaging the future. In fact, the Celtics hold the top seed in the East AND the top odds at the 1st overall pick in this year's draft:
.@JalenRose's Top 5 Lottery Teams with the Brightest Future:— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 12, 2017
1. Celtics pic.twitter.com/CvteQFKieC
If you had told me that we would draft and keep every pick the Celtics acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the Pierce/KG
It's unfathomable the #Celtics are the East one-seed only four years into their rebuild after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 13, 2017
Should the Celtics have another early playoff exit that great regular season won't mean much. The Celtics have to get out of the 1st round, and they've got a formidable opponent in a resurgent Chicago Bulls team standing in their way. Home court should be a great asset for them though, as the Celtics haven't lost much at home of late:
Notable for a team that has homecourt advantage in the East: Celtics are 17-3 in their last 20 home games.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 13, 2017
While winning an NBA title this year might be a stretch still the road to get there is certainly not insurmountable. There's a handful of really good teams in the East and it remains to be seen if Cleveland is going to flip that proverbial switch and dominate per usual. Aside from a full-strength/playoff-switch Cavs team I think the Celtics can beat any of the teams in the East in a 7-game series, and I certainly think they'd give Cleveland a run for their money.
Realated: Brad Stevens talks playoffs following regular season finale
Photo Credit - Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 4/13/2017 09:14:00 AM Tweet Edit