The Celtics made a risky gamble last offseason, but it’s paid off with a dominant regular season run.

Boston sits comfortably as the best team in the Eastern Conference and last week became the first team in the NBA to clinch a playoff spot. Jayson Tatum’s continued ascension and Derrick White’s breakout were key parts of that, but the additions of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday were vital for the C’s this season.

In retrospect, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens got away with robbery months after the deals. Porzingis was part of a three-team trade that sent Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies. Smart only played 20 games with Memphis prior to his finger injury in January. The Celtics acquired Holiday after he was dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers for Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon. Williams played six games this season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery, and Brogdon played 39 games before suffering an elbow injury last month.

Boston parted ways with multiple draft picks in those deals, but it will have been worth it if it walks away with a championship.

Story continues below advertisement

LeBron James and J.J. Reddick had high praise for Tatum in the inaugural episode of their “Mind The Game” podcast, but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar seemed to throw a subtle dig when referencing the Porzingis and Holiday additions.

“He’s (26) years old, and I believe he’s been to the conference finals four times, been to obviously the NBA Finals once,” James said to Reddick. “He’s (26). I didn’t win my first ring until I was 28. I think (Nikola Jokic) was his first when he was 27. I think (Michael Jordan) was 28, as well. We have a lot of expectations on JT, but he’s experienced a lot of winning in his career so far, and obviously, everyone wants to see him get over the hump. But four conference finals and a Finals appearance before the age of 26, that’s elite. He’s continued to grow, and they are in a position they can make another title run.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

“Personnel helps. Adding Porzingis and getting Jrue for a bag of Lay’s potato chips, that helps, as well. But JT, when you go scouting for Boston, he’s the No. 1 guy, for sure.”

It’s possible James simply was referring to the draft picks Boston gave up, but fans couldn’t help but think Smart, Brogdon and Williams were the target of the four-time NBA champion’s “bag of Lay’s potato chips” comment.

Story continues below advertisement

Los Angeles plays Memphis two more times this season, and Smart might have a word with James if he plays in those matchups.

Featured image via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images