Who Will Celtics Face In Playoffs? Predicting Road To NBA Finals

Boston would have home-court in any NBA Finals series


Apr 13, 2023

The Boston Celtics will begin their road to the organization’s long-awaited Banner 18 at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

We predicted how Boston’s road to the NBA Finals might play out, should they get to that point.

Eastern Conference first round vs. Atlanta Hawks
Decent prediction here, right? Yes, the Celtics officially will face the Hawks in the first round after Atlanta defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Play-In Tournament on Tuesday night. It feels like the Hawks are more of a favorable matchup than the Heat, too, so it worked out to the benefit of the Celtics. Boston swept Atlanta in its three regular-season matchups and the Hawks are a below-average defensive team that Jayson Tatum and company can exploit.

Prediction: Celtics in five games

Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia will have to get through a first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets first, but the talent of Joel Embiid and James Harden should ensure that’s no problem. The Celtics have matched up well with the 76ers both in years past and this season. Boston won three of the four head-to-head matchups against Philadelphia during the regular season and its only loss came without Jaylen Brown as Embiid dropped 52 points on 80% from the field. Embiid and Harden played in all four games against the Celtics this season. There’s no debating the threat Embiid presents on a nightly basis, it’s why he’s one of the favorites to win 2023 NBA MVP. But if Robert Williams and Al Horford are both healthy in the series, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be, the Celtics should be able to matchup with Embiid inside. Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown just need to ensure Harden is never the best player on the floor.

Prediction: Celtics in six games

Eastern Conference finals vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Celtics struggled to focus and put it all together coming out of the NBA All-Star break, and that stretch ultimately helped Milwaukee take over the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks now will have home-court advantage for the NBA playoffs. Will it be a deciding factor? Perhaps. The Celtics, after all, needed Game 7 in Boston to advance past the Bucks in the conference semifinals last season. And they did so because of key contributions from bench players like Grant Williams. It’s fair to assume those contributions might be harder to come by on the road. Oh yeah, and the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks are a talented bunch, especially on the defensive end. Milwaukee, though, isn’t doesn’t pack the same punch on the offensive end as the Celtics. Milwaukee ranked 15th in offensive rating this season while Boston ranked second. Antetokounmpo presents the challenge to score every time he has the ball. But the Celtics’ scoring depth, with Malcolm Brogdon now running the second unit and giving Boston much more off the bounce, could help the Green advance past Milwaukee for a second straight year.

Prediction: Celtics in six games

NBA Finals vs. Golden State Warriors
A rematch of last year’s NBA Finals might be boring to some, but it feels quite possible. The sixth-seeded Warriors received a fantastic first-round draw against the Sacramento Kings. Golden State is favored in the opening series, and rightfully so. The Warriors then could see the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, if LeBron James and company prove to have too much size for the Memphis Grizzlies. Golden State also will benefit from the top-seeded Denver Nuggets likely having to exchange haymakers with the Phoenix Suns on the other side of the bracket. Despite Phoenix’s top-tier talent with Kevin Durant, the Suns don’t have anyone to stop Steph Curry, and that usually doesn’t go well. The Celtics probably would welcome the opportunity go up against Draymond Green, Curry and the Warriors again and it feels like the C’s are better suited for it this year. They’ll have the ability to throw plenty of defenders at Curry given their backcourt depth, and if the Celtics reach the NBA Finals they’ll have home-court advantage over any Western Conference foe.

Prediction: Celtics in seven games

Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, forward Jayson Tatum
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