The Golden State Warriors have played against the Cleveland Cavaliers in each of the last four NBA Finals, but the 2018-19 season probably will produce a new championship-round opponent for the ‘Dubs.
LeBron James’ exit from the Cavaliers has opened the door for a new team to rule the Eastern Conference, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sees the Boston Celtics as a legitimate contender.
“No doubt. But, again, I don’t think that’s big news,” Kerr recently told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I mean, obviously Cleveland is no longer a threat to win it all. So you look at the East landscape, and Boston, they’re the favorite now.”
The Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are the top teams in the East with the Cavs no longer employing James. The C’s have a slight edge over the 76ers in the odds to win the conference, though, primarily because Boston beat Philly in a five-game second-round playoff series last season despite being without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Irving and Hayward are set to return to a Celtics squad that came within a game of making the NBA Finals, while the 76ers have yet to make any huge additions to their 2017-18 roster.
Should the Celtics reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 and square off against the Warriors, it has the potential to be a really competitive series despite Golden State’s recent Finals dominance.
“The last few years they’ve played us well, even before they had Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson Tatum, because they’ve always been really good defensively in the backcourt between Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley and (Terry) Rozier,” Kerr said, per Bulpett.
“So they’ve given us good games over the years, but this year is different. Now they’re starting to build a modern NBA defense with a whole bunch of guys who can all switch. So their roster looks a lot like ours does, you know, with the length and the versatility, and that’s the toughest kind of team to score on these days. They’ve done a good job.”
Basketball fans shouldn’t complain if the 2019 NBA Finals look like the games the Celtics and Warriors played last season.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports
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