The Boston Celtics looked like a whole different team in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but will it last?
The Celtics, who entered the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed after a struggle-filled regular season, made quick work of the Indiana Pacers in a four-game sweep. Boston’s next challenge will be far more difficult, as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks await Kyrie Irving and Co. in the second round.
The two sides match up from a talent standpoint, and the case can even be made that the C’s feature a deeper roster than the Bucks. That said, Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas believes there’s one clear way Milwaukee could knock Boston off its game and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“The thing that I question about Boston, the trust factor that they have with each other right now is very fragile,” Thomas said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Stephen A. Smith Show.” “When you’re trying to beat a team in the playoffs, the thing you’re really trying to do is break the teammates’ trust and confidence within each other so they won’t be able to execute their gameplan. And when I look at Boston right now from a trust and confidence standpoint, they’re very fragile. And one or two losses could really break their trust or their ability to communicate with each other to execute the coach’s gameplan. That’s what I think Milwaukee will try to exploit: their trust and their confidence within themselves.”
The Celtics’ chemistry might not be as weak as Thomas thinks. Boston dealt with more hardships than it could’ve imagined during the regular season and relatively weathered the storm. It seems like everyone up and down the Celtics’ roster was eager for the playoffs to get underway, as it presented an opportunity to turn a new leaf and really prove what they’re capable of.
The C’s are battle-tested, whereas the Bucks haven’t really dealt with much adversity and are in the second round for the first time since the 2000-01 season. So while it’s fair to proceed with caution as far as C’s optimism is concerned, it should be interesting to how Milwaukee responds when (or if) it gets punched in the mouth.