The Boston Celtics are finally getting the credit they deserve for being a top contender in the Eastern Conference. Well, at least from national voices.
A few weeks ago it was ESPN's Jalen Rose who predicted the Celtics would win the Eastern Conference and reach the 2020 NBA Finals. Colin Cowherd also sees the C's as legit NBA Finals contenders. He made a compelling case for the Celtics during Wednesday's episode of "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on FOX Sports 1.
Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis
“Yeah, I think they’re a contender,” Cowherd said. “They’re second in the NBA in defense. They’re the only team that has three players that average over 20 points. I don’t get the deniers on this. I think Jayson Tatum’s the second-best player in the East. Gordon Hayward could give you 22, Jaylen (Brown) could give you 22. Jayson Tatum could give you 32 on any night. I think this is a real team. Kemba Walker can give you 22. There’s no other team in the NBA — you have four guys who could give you over 20 and you would not be surprised. It wouldn’t be a shocking performance for Jaylen Brown. I also think they have probably the best coach, (Brad Stevens) and Erik Spoelstra in the East.”
His point about having three players averaging 20-plus points per game is particularly noteworthy. The Celtics' greatest strength might be their scoring depth. They have so many guys who can score in different ways. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and even Gordon Hayward all can shoot well from 3-point range and score at the rim. They aren't one-dimensional offensive players. When one or two of these players are having a bad game, the other two usually step up. Most contenders across the league don't have this kind of offensive depth.
Another plus the Celtics is they're versatile. They have excellent wing depth, and it's valuable that Tatum and Brown are capable of defending multiple positions at a high level. Few teams have a better small-ball lineup than the Celtics. Conversely, if you want to play a physical game, Boston is more than able to play that style as well.
Making it to the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference won't be easy for the Celtics, especially if they have to play a really talented opponent like the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. The Toronto Raptors also aren't a joke and the Milwaukee Bucks have the league's top record and the reigning MVP winner in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But to dismiss the Celtics as a real threat to win the East would be a mistake. The combination of a talented, deep roster with excellent coaching will give them a strong chance to make a deep run in Orlando next month.