The Celtics should enter the 2020 NBA playoffs with quite a bit of confidence.
Boston has gone 5-2 in the seeding round thus far, including impressive wins over the second-seeded Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers, as well as a 149-point outburst against the Brooklyn Nets. The C’s also are expected to embark on the postseason injury-free, a state Brad Stevens’ team rarely was in over the course of the season prior to the pause.
That said, Boston is not without flaws, and ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry is most concerned with the Celtics’ ability — or lack thereof — to defend the reigning NBA MVP.
“The Celtics are loaded with perimeter threats, but Giannis Antetokounmpo still eats Boston for lunch,” Goldsberry wrote for ESPN.com. “In their three matchups this season, Giannis has averaged 20.7 points per game … in the paint alone.
“Boston’s wings aren’t quite big enough to thwart Antetokounmpo’s drives, and the bigs aren’t physically able to stifle him at the rack. It’s a big reason why the Celtics have lost six of their past eight to Milwaukee.
With the Bucks and Celtics starting on opposite sides of the East bracket, Boston’s best hope to make the NBA Finals is Milwaukee getting upset in the second round.”
In the Celtics’ defense, there aren’t many — if any — teams across the league built to defend Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak boasts a rare combination of size and high-end athleticism, making him a matchup nightmare. But if Boston is able to keep Antetokounmpo’s supporting cast at bay, it could make things interesting in a best-of-seven series against the Bucks.
The C’s will play their final seeding game Thursday afternoon against the Washington Wizards. The playoffs are set to begin Monday, Aug. 17.