Here Are Three Biggest Challenges To Celtics In Eastern Conference

Sometimes you just can't prepare


Apr 11, 2023

The Boston Celtics are riding a nice little wave of momentum into the postseason.

Though they were unable to wrestle the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed from the Bucks, the Celtics took home wins in five of their final six games, including an absolute thumping of Milwaukee on the road. Boston is riding solid momentum toward the postseason, but before it finds out its first-round opponent it has time to make final preparations.

Unfortunately for the C’s, there are some things that you just can’t prepare for. Some would even go as far as to call them challenges.

Let’s take a look at the biggest ones facing the Celtics as they enter the NBA postseason.

Robert Williams III’s injury management
The Celtics, to a man, understand how important Williams’ health is to their chances at another NBA Finals run. It has been mentioned up and down the roster, with stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and head coach Joe Mazzulla leading the charge. Boston has taken it easy with the big man, but it may not be afforded that opportunity come playoff time.

Williams played in just 35 games during the regular season, with the majority of his missed games coming as a result of nagging injuries. There was a chunk of games that the 25-year-old missed due to injury management, however. The NBA won’t force anyone to play a back-to-back in the playoffs, so that shouldn’t be much of an issue moving forward so long as he stays healthy.

That seems to be the issue, though. As important as Williams is on both the defensive and offensive end, his availability is completely out of Boston’s hands. Green Teamers will just have to keep their fingers crossed.

Path of being No. 2 seed
It could be assumed that the No. 2 seed in each conference should have the second-easiest path throughout the postseason, and that may be the case, but it doesn’t mean things are actually going to be easy.

Though the first-round opponent depends on the outcome of the play-in tournament game between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics’ path could be pretty ugly.

There’s a possibility Boston has to play Miami, the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee all just to get out of the East. There may not be another top-four seed (in either conference) who sees a lineup like that in terms of physicality through three rounds. If only the Celtics didn’t blow that one game in Washington D.C.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
All of the entries on this list are technically hypotheticals, but this one feels like a near guarantee.

If you want to win an NBA title, you’re going to have to go through Antetokounmpo. There is good and bad news that comes with that information.

The good news? Boston has had relative success against the two-time MVP and has won 8-of-14 matchups over the last two seasons, including the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The bad news? Milwaukee would have the advantage of rostering the best player in any series so long as Antetokounmpo stays healthy. The Celtics got over that hump once, can they do it for a second season in a row?

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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