Prior to the pause of the 2019-20 NBA season, basketball fans and media members alike might not have been overly high on the Boston Celtics’ chances of reaching the NBA Finals.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo is putting together another MVP-caliber campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks were starting to look like a runaway train. The reigning champion Toronto Raptors were starting to find their groove, too.
But after a three-plus-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston’s Finals hopes seemingly now are much more legitimate.
Players will be tasked with re-finding their form on the fly when the NBA resumes game action July 31. Jalen Rose believes this situation favors the Celtics, who feature a smaller and younger team. Rose believes Brad Stevens’ bunch will be able to hit the ground running next month and make a push to the championship stage.
“…I’m loving teams like the Celtics and the Rockets,” Rose said Thursday on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.” “Small ball, spread it out and take advantage of the big guys that can’t score against the little guys. That’s really what it’s gonna be. It’s gonna be like AAU out there. These dudes have been off for months. …Boston’s winning the East. The more I think about this — God, strike me down. I hadn’t said this out of my mouth or even thought about it one time until we had this conversation, until right now. Boston’s winning the East.”
Each of the 22 teams involved in the league’s restart will play eight regular-season games before the playoffs begin. Should the Eastern Conference standings hold firm following that slate, Boston would play the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.