As we all figured, the final two teams standing are the Cavaliers and Warriors for the third straight year. On Thursday night, Cleveland beat Boston to advance winning the series 4-1. Boston was the only team that the Lebron James led team did not sweep in the playoffs this year, while Golden State eased through each of their series to be the first team to go 12-0 in the playoffs. Even though this match up could be seen coming since after Cleveland won the title last year and especially after Kevin Durant signed with Golden State, I believe that some of the teams in both conferences will step up to the challenge and get closer to the level that the Warriors and Cavs are playing on and be closer to ending this streak of Finals appearances for both teams. For the Boston Celtics, the future is so very bright in terms of what they can accomplish.
This is just the beginning for the young Celtics team; they will be towards the top of the East again next year. This team seems primed to make another run at the Eastern Conference Finals next year with all the talent that they currently have and the opportunity to acquire more whether it is from the draft and using the top pick or by trading that pick for someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. They also have the advantage of having one of the best young coaches in the NBA in Brad Stevens.
This franchise has come far from where it was just 4 years ago at the start of the Stevens era. This team had just come off a 41-40 year, the franchise sent their championship winning head coach to the Clippers, they had traded two of the greatest players of this generation to the Nets for a bunch of bench players and a few draft picks and were beginning the process to rebuild. No one expected Coach Stevens to succeed in the NBA since most college coaches struggle in the pros unless you have a team built to win now. In his first year, he led the team to a 25-57 record, the worse since 06’-07’, and would draft a scrappy guard from OK State in Marcus Smart with their first-round pick.
Going into the trade deadline in his second season, Coach Stevens had the team at 20-31 and in need of a boost somehow. Towards the final moments of the deadline, Danny Ainge would pull off one of the most one sided trades this decade, two years after he pulled of another one that did not seem like it at first; he would swap Marcus Thornton and a first rounder for the undersized guard in Isaiah Thomas. That season they would end with a record of 40-42 and get into the playoffs with the 7th seed.
Since the acquisition of Thomas, the Celtics are 121-74. This team has been able to improve every year under Stevens. They have increased their win total each year from his first year and going 25-57 to this past year and winning 53 games and appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also helped that they could lure one of the best big men in the league in Al Horford from Atlanta. With the amount of young talent and the stash of draft picks, I would certainly say that the future of the Celtics is very bright and that they are ahead of schedule in terms of finishing their rebuilding phase of the franchise last year and are able to win now.