There are very few certainties heading into the upcoming NBA season. Lebron James' next decision may have a major impact on the League landscape. Danny Ainge may decide to pull off another major trade in an attempt to further improve his team. The Celtics could possibly have a significantly different look for this season. The chance is very slim, but very few have written off the Lebron-to-Boston possibility entirely, and should he choose the 76'ers, that would make for a difficult ride for the Celtics in the East.

But the one near-certainty is that the Warriors will look very much like they do right now. Why change what already works so well? But looking at the win-loss records of the Celtics versus Golden State over the past three seasons, Boston seems to have matched up quite well against their Western Conference foe.

In the six Boston-vs.-Golden State games over the past three years, the Celtics are even at 3-and-3. With one exception, the games were fairly close with The Dubs coming out ahead in total points 617-612. The only large margin was a 104-88 loss by Boston at TD Garden.

Under coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics have become an elite defensive team, but admittedly one that has difficulty scoring the ball at times. Hopefully, having Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis for the entire season should correct many of the offensive woes. Finding a way to bring back defensive-whiz Marcus Smart will play a large role in Boston's ultimate success over the Warriors.

Defeating the Warriors always comes down to countering their Death Lineup of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The five players accounted for 85% of The Dubs' points in the post season. Successfully opposing those five with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, backed up by Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye appears quite probable.

Jaylen Brown needs to work on his free-throw shooting and strength. Both Jaylen and Tatum had difficulty maintaining control of the ball on drives to the hole involving contact. Smart most-definitely needs to work on his shot selection and marksmanship. T-Ro and Marcus often resorted to desperate shot attempts when the Celtics fell behind. Semi is a lock-down defender but needs to contribute more points and rebounds.

The rookies, except for Theis, were battle-tested in the playoffs and that bodes well for next season. The Celtics team as currently constructed has the defensive talent and grit to stay with any opponent, including the Warriors. I expect Brown, Tatum and Ojeleye to make significant strides in the off-season, particularly in their offensive play.

The Championship drought for Boston is now 10 years, and Danny Ainge is running out of patience. Nothing is off the table for him, including The King coming to Bean Town. The Jay-Team of Jaylen and Jayson fits Brad Stevens' system like a pair of gloves, and it would take a young mega star to move them out of Boston. But it would seem that the current unit, if healthy, can win it all with a little of the all-important Lady Luck. We deserve some of that with the injury plague of last season.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Ainge photo via Christopher Evans/Boston Herald
Celtics photo via Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Tom Lane 6/11/2018 10:25:00 AM Edit
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