The Boston Celtics had the best regular-season record in the NBA and made easy work of their first two opponents in the playoffs.

Boston is still the overwhelmingly favorite to win the NBA championship, but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith doesn’t think the Celtics will actually complete their quest for Banner No. 18.

“We’re not giving the Boston Celtics a chance to win this championship without (Kristaps) Porzingis. You need him to win it,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday. “Without him, nobody is looking at (the Celtics) beating Dallas or Minnesota.”

The Celtics have been without Porzingis since he suffered a calf injury in Game 4 of Boston’s opening round against the Miami Heat. Since the loss of Porzingis, the Celtics have lost just one playoff game, so why is Smith convinced Boston doesn’t have what it takes to win the title?

Story continues below advertisement

“You’re looking at two teams in Dallas and Minnesota that are incredibly tenacious,” Smith explained. “We can’t bypass Indiana, let’s be very, very clear about that. I believe this is going to be a series. Indiana has the potential to make it a very interesting series. If Boston doesn’t come with their game, they could lose this series.

“I’m just thinking of the mindset; the Boston Celtics are not the favorites. They have dominated the Eastern Conference this year. They’ve had their way with the Eastern Conference for the vast majority of the last seven or eight years or so, but they haven’t been able to kick in the door, and that’s really what it comes down to.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Smith went on to say that the Celtics have only gone to the NBA Finals once in their recent dominance, and they couldn’t get past Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

“Now we have to look at the rest of the landscape, Minnesota and Dallas,” he said. “They shouldn’t be the favorites. Certainly without Porzingis. Even with Porzingis, you have to wonder about them right now, based on what you’re seeing because of how they play offensively. Defensively, they show up. Offensively, too much one-on-one engagement. Not enough spacing. Not enough movement without the basketball. Not enough sharing the basketball. Too much one-on-one. You’re not beating elite defensive teams on a championship platform playing offense that way. It’s that simple.”

Story continues below advertisement

Is it really that simple?

Boston went 1-1 against Minnesota in the regular season with both contests decided in overtime, and swept the two games against Dallas.

The Celtics host the Pacers for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night. Boston leads the series 1-0.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images