BOSTON — While the rest of the Eastern Conference’s elite swung deals to bolster their playoff push, the Boston Celtics stayed pat and watched the NBA trade deadline come and go.
The Celtics’ stiffest competition for conference supremacy all made noteworthy moves ahead of Thursday afternoon’s deadline. The Toronto Raptors arguably made the biggest splash by acquiring Marc Gasol, while the Philadelphia 76ers added a major piece in Tobias Harris. Not to be outdone, the Milwaukee Bucks reeled in versatile big man Nikola Mirotic and the Indiana Pacers helped alleviate the absence of Victor Oladipo by bringing on Wesley Matthews.
The C’s, on the other hand, remained quiet amid the chaos. Boston mildly piped up by opening a roster spot via reportedly trading Jabari Bird, but Danny Ainge and Co. otherwise were stagnant.
Prior to the Celtics’ matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden, Brad Stevens was asked about the deals made by the conference’s best. While the head coach knows those clubs only are going to improve, he believes it’s just part of the grind.
“Those teams were already really good and the assumption would only be that they would only benefit from those moves,” Stevens said. “It will be quite a challenge, as we knew it would be.”
The case can be made that the Celtics still feature the strongest roster from top to bottom in the East even after the bevy of deadline moves. But games aren’t won on paper, and there’s no doubt it will be a dog fight the rest of the way in the battle for the No. 1 seed.
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