Sizing up the Boston Celtics competition: Mailbag answers (Part 3 of 3)

Sizing up the Boston Celtics competition: Mailbag answers (Part 3 of 3)

I just couldn’t fit these in with the rest of the questions.

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Which team from the East do you think would be the toughest matchup for the Celtics in the playoffs?


Which team is the biggest hurdle to the celtics winning the chip this year? I’m not just talking about records but who has the celtics mentally beat or has the tools (players, coaching, system) to give the celtics fits?

the bucks gave us the biggest beatdown this year but i’m not scared of them. The heat or warriors concern me more.

Let’s power rank these teams (by Conference)

Disclaimer – this is Jeff’s opinion only and not reflective of anyone else and shouldn’t be used for gambling purposes… mostly because gambling is dumb (sorry SBN sponsors).

Eastern Conference:

Milwaukee Bucks – I really want to write them off because in the playoffs they won’t be able to guard the perimeter. I want to believe that a first year coach is going to have a hard time performing in the playoffs. I want to scoff and point out that Kris Middleton hasn’t been the same and the depth falls off a cliff after him.

But mostly I just want them to lose early in the playoffs because at the end of the day they have Giannis and Dame and sometimes all you need is two superstars going supernova at the right time.

Miami Heat – Jimmy, Bam, Spo, and 6 guys picked up from the GLeague are more than capable of winning any given playoff series (or maybe 2 or 3). Yes, this is me admitting that the Heat take up residence in my head. It isn’t rent-free though. In the last several season they’ve put down a deposit and several months rent in cash. They earned that.

Philadelphia 76ers – Yes they have the reigning MVP and he’s going to get his points against anyone. What really scares me about this team is the way that Maxey has emerged. He’s just the kind of irrepressible slasher that the Celtics have always struggled with. And if they add another weapon at the trade deadline, they’ll be even more dangerous in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers – Tyrese Haliburton had this team clicking on all cylinders before getting hurt. Coach Rick Carlisle empowered him and the rest of the offense to make beautiful music together. I don’t think they play enough defense to be a real serious threat in the East but they’ll make life miserable for anyone playing them in the playoffs. Update: Now that they have added Siakam, there’s even more reason to have them ranked this high. That’s just a perfect fit for them going forward.

New York Knicks – Between Jalen Brunson and Coach Thibbs, this team isn’t going to back down from anyone. Randle is a bit of a wildcard (for good or bad) but OG Anunoby is just the perfect addition for them. I also like Hart, Grimes, and Precious. I don’t know if they have enough top level talent just yet, but they are going to be a very tough out for anyone.

Cleveland Cavaliers – This team is the polar opposite of the Knicks. There’s a lot of top end talent, but somehow they haven’t figured out how to make it all work. I’m very happy that they didn’t add someone like Anunoby that could have connected things well. I still believe in Mobley long term, but he might need a slightly different cast around him to fully realize his potential. Of course as soon as I put them this low on the list, watch them be that one team that goes on a run in the playoffs.

Honorable mention: Orlando Magic – Probably a year or two away from being truly dangerous, but these guys can play already. Banchero can be a star, Wagner is legit, and if they find any shooting to go around those guys, watch out. Plus they always play the Celtics well, which has my respect.

Western Conference:

Denver Nuggets – Champs. Best player alive. Enough said.

OKC Thunder – The time is now. Unless it is next year. But it could be now. But Jokic. But maybe. We’ll see.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Defense wins championships. Ant Edwards is the real deal. Did I mention that they play defense?

LA Clippers – Speaking of defense, when you have a healthy (knock on wood) Kawhi and Paul George, you have a good chance at playing some good defense. Add in a revitalized James Harden (knock on wood) and a great coach and you’ve got a team to recon with. Just keep a lot of wood products around.

Honorable mention: This is where I’m legally obligated to acknowledge that Steph Curry and LeBron James are too good to completely rule out.

It is going to be a fun 2nd half of the season. Can’t wait to see how the playoffs shape up.

Thanks for all the questions everyone! Let’s do this again.

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