From Ashes to New

The Boston Celtics have overcome adversity with great defense and rebounding. Is this enough for them to be called title contenders?

Just five minutes into the season, All-Star Gordon Hayward went down with a potential season ending injury. The Boston Celtics fought hard against the Cavs in their first game but lost by three. Then they lost the subsequent game to the Milwaukee Bucks. It looked like it was going to be a long season, then something sparked. The team didn’t lose another game after that until November 20th.

As the Celtics went on a sixteen game win streak, their notable weaknesses from last season withered away. Rebounding and defense. As last season limped to an end, centers Al Horford and Amir Johnson were struggling to grab more than six boards a game. It feels like Hayward’s injury forced the team to mesh together quickly. There are only four players from last year’s squad in addition to all these new guys that have helped the Celtics grow stronger. They are playing younger and quicker basketball.

Before the season started, the Celtics were tied for the third best chance to make an appearance in the Finals along with the San Antonio Spurs at 12/1. Since then they have fluctuated, but the odds have gone towards their favor at 10/1. You can follow along with the Celtics odds, as well as betting on the team here.

The Competition

Per usual the Western Conference appears stacked this season. The Golden State Warriors have some competition with the Houston Rockets and potentially the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs might be able to make their usual run as long as the injury bug leaves them alone in the second half of the season. The Eastern Conference looks like a dog fight for second place. For the first time in almost a decade LeBron James’s team is closer to ninth place than first. The Cavs are currently third in the East but are riding six games behind first place. They are also ranked almost last in defense efficiency at twenty-eighth. No team has made the playoffs with a ranking as poor as that.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Eastern Conference is shaping up to be as expected. Teams like Toronto, Washington, and Milwaukee are all within contention of making playoffs. Adversely basement dwellers like New York, Chicago, and Brooklyn are not surprising anyone.

With the All-Star break and trade deadline quickly approaching the Celtics have room to improve. With the disabled player exception under Danny Ainge’s belt this team has options. They could trade for a player or sit comfortably until the buyout deadline. No matter what moves are or aren’t made, this team is a favorite to win the 2018 NBA Finals.