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When Gordon Hayward went down five minutes into the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, many believed that the Boston Celtics season was over before it even started.


Charles Barkley went on the record saying that it was going to be difficult for the Celtics to do any better then the four seed in the East. He went on the record stating that, "The sad thing is that their season is over." The next day the Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks and fell to 0-2. To many fans, it felt like a season with so much hype surrounding it, was now in trouble. All the sudden the improbable happened.

The Celtics went on a 16-game winning streak and turned the NBA world upside down. Jaylen Brown went from an unpolished rookie to one of the most improved players in the league. Jayson Tatum had one of the best rookie campaigns in Celtics history and Kyrie Irving teamed with Al Horford to make the All-star game. Boston began to be viewed as a legitimate threat to the Cavaliers even without Hayward. Fast forward to April When Irving was shut down for the season before the beginning of the playoffs, many Celtics fans hearts shrank. Not only because they were concerned that a “minimally invasive” surgery led to Irving being out for four to five months but because the fans felt robbed.

The Celtics were matched up against the Milwaukee Bucks in their first round matchup as they went into the playoffs without their two all-star players. The Bucks proceeded to take them seven games in a back and forth series that saw Boston matched up with the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round. This is where the improbable continued to happen. Although 23 of 26 ESPN experts picked Philadelphia to handle the Celtics, Boston won the series handily in five games. They then went onto face the Lebron James-led Cavaliers that had been to the finals the previous three seasons and although they did not win, they went seven games and went down to the wire. This then led to 23 out 26 ESPN analysts had yet again picked them to lose to the Cavaliers as well but the Celtics proved a massive point.


Boston went toe to toe with Lebron and the Cavaliers and took them to the brink. This all happened without quite possibly their two best players. This brings up the big question as to whether or not they would have gone the distance and won it all with those two men in the lineup.

It stands to reason that the Bucks would have been beat in a quicker fashion then seven games with those two in the lineup. Milwaukee gave the Celtics fits in that first round matchup because Boston's inexperience caused fits on the road. The home team won every game of that series but having two veterans with playoff and championship experience could have given the team enough of a boost to win the series within the first five games.

This would have led to much of the same in the next series. The 76ers were able to win just one game in their series against the Celtics but would of had a very difficult time pulling this off against a team with Irving and Hayward in the lineup. Boston very easily could have found themselves sweeping both of the teams first two matchups.

All of this would have led to their matchup with the Cavaliers. Does anybody truly believe a team that went seven games without these guys would have lost that series with them? The Celtics would have lost a game or two simply due to Lebron  and his greatness but they would have advanced to the NBA finals with the two of them in the lineup.

The Cavaliers stood virtually no chance in the NBA finals and this was due to the fact that they were not even the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were not healthy. It truly is that simple and if they had been healthy then you would have seen a much more competitive finals and one that Boston may have even been able to win. Kyrie Irving would have been able to matchup with Steph Curry as he has done already in the finals. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart could have keyed in on Klay Thompson and taken away a lot of his outside contributions and the combination of Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum may have been able to force Kevin Durant into isolation basketball. The Celtics would have had favorable matchups against the Warriors and this is something that Cleveland simply did not have.

Had those two guys been healthy, the NBA may have been able to stop talking about how Kevin Durant ruined the NBA. Yet, alas, the NBA world and the Celtics faithful will have to wait another year.

Gordon Hayward photo-- Omar Rawlings-- Getty Images

Kyrie Irving photo-- Tim Bradbury-- Getty Images

Jared Talbot 6/19/2018 04:57:00 PM Edit
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