Kevin Garnett’s crystal ball tells him something we might have known already.
The retired NBA legend told Vice Sports on Thursday he believes the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers will meet in this season’s Eastern Conference finals and that the series will be more competitive than last season’s playoff meeting, in which the Cavs overpowered the C’s in five games en route to the NBA Finals.
“… But when you see how theyâve rallied around (Gordon) Haywardâs injury and been able to put games together, hell yeah theyâre gonna be a force to be reckoned with in the end, and I think itâs gonna be Cleveland and Boston in the Conference finals to be able to dictate who represents the East,” Garnett said. “And I think itâs gonna be one to where itâs unprecedented. And I donât think we can all guess. I think itâs just gonna be one where we gotta sit back and enjoy it.
The Celtics overhauled their roster in the offseason, acquiring superstar point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cavs via trade and another nine players through the NBA draft, trades and free agency. The Celtics’ early success doesn’t surprise Garnett, who was a key figure in Boston’s superteam of 10 years ago, and he predicts they’ll improve over the course of the season.
“But Iâm not shocked,” Garnett said. “Iâm very proud because I come from that same pedigree … I like how that team is built up. Obviously the head of the snake is Kyrie, and heâs leading them by example and I love it, and the dynamic seems to be cool, but I love more the progression of the younger guys, having a chance to play in real games, real experiences. No practice will ever give you that, so the fact that theyâre growing up before our eyes is something special and I think we all need to have our eyes pinned to the television and to the season, with their progression.”
The Celtics and Cavs are in first and second place in the Eastern Conference with 24-6 and 21-8 records, respectively. It doesn’t take a basketball savant like Garnett to predict they’ll face off in the playoffs, but he’s far too savvy to declare a winner preemptively.