The Boston Celtics were one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA last year. The 2017-2018 season had a lot of amazing games by the Celtics, which most notably consisted of comeback wins against the Rockets (26 points) and the Warriors (26 points). The season, though, was plagued with injuries, whether it was the Hayward injury that kept him out the whole year, or the Kyrie injury that made him miss the last few weeks of the regular season, the Celtics always found a way to make many of their games exciting no matter who they played.
The C’s are now one of the most feared teams in the NBA and cause many exciting matchups. Here are five opponents that will be the best to look for in the upcoming NBA season:
1. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers look to be Boston’s biggest threat in the east at the moment with LeBron’s destination still unknown. The 76ers are a very young team with Embiid and Ben Simmons leading them all the way to the playoffs. Philadelphia lost the regular season series to the Boston Celtics 3-1. One of those games took place in London, where the Celtics came from 22 down to beat them 114-103. The Celtics then lost the next game to Philly 89-80, but that would not be the end to this series.
Boston played Philadelphia in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference Playoffs that year. The C’s were very large underdogs as they opened +300 in that series. On some betting websites they rose all the way up to +750. This series was a dominant one for the Celtics. They won it in only five games consisting off a 22 point comeback in Game 2 and an overtime win in Game 3. Things also got very heated between the teams during the series.
Tensions ran high between Joel Embiid and Terry Rozier in Game 4. pic.twitter.com/eYNGlMsynQ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 8, 2018
This Philly and Boston rivalry has grown very big ever since the Super Bowl, and will only get bigger with these two powerhouses going at each other.
2. Golden State Warriors
The defending back-to-back NBA champs come in at number two on this list. Golden State is arguably the greatest team of all-time, which is why they will be high on this list. The Warriors are coming off championship wins in 2015, 2017, 2018, and they look to continue that streak of dominance.
There is one team in the NBA who the Warriors haven’t consistently dominated: the Boston Celtics. Boston has split the season-series with the Warriors the past three years, and are the only team in the NBA other than the Warriors with a winning record in the Oracle Arena since 2015. The Celtics in 2016 were the team to stop Golden State’s record-breaking 54-game home win streak.
The Celtics beat Golden State in Boston for the first time since 2015. This game looked bad for Boston with Golden State going up 22. The Celtics then erupted to go on a 19-0 run and won by a score of 92-88. This lead many to believe that Golden State versus Boston could be a finals matchup of the future. Even Stephen Curry believes that.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 17, 2017
The Celtics were only one game away from facing the Warriors in the 2017-2018 NBA Finals, but came up short in Game 7 against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. With Golden State favored again to win the NBA championship and the Celtics healthy going into next season, this could be a possible Finals match-up in the making.
3. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets were also only one game away from the NBA Finals, just like the Celtics. The Rockets ended the regular season last year with the best record in the NBA, going 65-17. The Rockets and Celtics played twice this year and split the season series in two of the most entertaining games of the entire regular season. In the first game the Celtics won 99-98 in a 26 point comeback. This game had Marcus Smart drawing two late offensive fouls on James Harden, which set up the game-winner by Al Horford.
James Harden fouled Marcus Smart in the final seconds, giving the Celtics the win, wow. pic.twitter.com/WOaYysxlA7
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) December 29, 2017
The Celtics-Rockets series next year looks to continue on this excitement. Especially with the thought of LeBron joining one of these teams.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Boston-LA rivalry hasn’t felt as important as recent years, but that looks to change in 2018. The Lakers are filled with young talent like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle.
Marcus Smart with the rejection on Lonzo Ball pic.twitter.com/HW9QXTMdvf
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 9, 2017
The Lakers are also poised to get a big name via trade or free agency whether its Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, or LeBron James. There are even talks of them forming a super team with all three of those players. If the Lakers can acquire one of these players, the rivalry could be back on.
5. Toronto Raptors
Toronto has been a force in the Atlantic division for years now. The duo of Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan has been one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Toronto finished first in the Eastern Conference, but got swept by Cleveland in the semifinals. This led to Toronto firing Dwyane Casey. Toronto may not be the force in the playoffs that they are in the regular season, but winning the games against them in the regular season could be the difference in home-court advantage for the Celtics in the playoffs.
The Boston Celtics were one game away from making it to the NBA Finals last year. With this set of opponents for next season, they can really see how they stack up against the rest of the NBA.