Boston Celtics: First Round Summary, Potential Playoff Path, Championship Odds & Best Bets

First Round Summary – Celtics Vs. Nets

The 2nd seed Boston Celtics swept the 7th seed Brooklyn Nets in the First Round of the Eastern Conference. Boston’s suffocating defense held Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to perhaps their worst playoff series ever. Durant scored 26.3 PPG on 38.6 FG%, and Irving scored 21.3 PPG on 44.4 FG%. Irving’s numbers seem fine, but he had a monster Game 1 which inflated them. Jayson Tatum fully emerged as an MVP-candidate and beat Durant in the head-to-head matchup all series. Tatum had 29.5 PPG and 7.3 APG on a 45/41/86 shooting split. Jaylen Brown had 22.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.3 APG on a 49/21/78 shooting split. Marcus Smart excelled as their point guard, as he went for 16.5 PPG and 7 APG on 42.1 FG%. 

Boston’s frontcourt was lethal on the defensive end and dominated the boards. Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams were deflecting every pass or shot and disrupting the Nets offense. All three were able to switch on the perimeter and shut down the Nets ball handlers. Every game in the series was winnable for the Nets, but the Celtics dominated clutch minutes like seasoned veterans. Overall, it was one of the most impressive displays of team defense in a long time. Coach Ime Udoka had his guys playing hard every possession, and the Celtics are hungry for a championship.

Remaining Potential Playoff Path: A Matchup Vs. Giannis? 

Boston advanced to the Second Round of the Eastern Conference after dispatching Brooklyn. They will play the winner of Bucks Bulls and have home court advantage. With Milwaukee being up 3-1, the Celtics will likely face familiar foe Giannis Antetokounmpo. Boston was able to stifle Durant with physicality, but Giannis is a completely different type of player. The trio of Horford, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams will be the difference maker in this series. If they are able to consistently switch and somewhat contain Giannis, the Celtics will make quick work of the Bucks. Middleton’s injury status is also murky, so Boston may avoid having to play against him. The Bucks are thin at small forward, which is an area the Celtics can exploit. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are elite two-way wings who will terrorize the Bucks with their scoring. DPOY Marcus Smart can match Jrue Holiday’s defense while being the main playmaker. 

If they defeat the Bucks, the Celtics would likely play the winner of 76ers Heat in the Conference Finals. Embiid’s injury and Harden’s shaky playoff history will not scare the Celtics in the slightest. Boston has owned Philadelphia in recent years, as they swept the 76ers in 2020 and beat them 4-1 in 2018. Miami would be a defensive duel, but Boston’s offense is the better of the two. The Celtics would be favored in either scenario and make the Finals. The Suns or Warriors would likely be waiting for them, and Boston can match up with them. While Boston is by no means a lock to win the Finals, they have perhaps the best chance to accomplish this feat of any team. 

Celtics Championship Odds & Best Bets 

DraftKings currently has Boston at the second shortest odds to win the title at +370 behind the Warriors (+280). The Celtics are also +155 to win the Eastern Conference on DraftKings. However, FanDuel has the Celtics at +450 to win the Finals and +280 to win the East. Sportsbooks are not making the mistake of underestimating this team. Although they are young, the core pieces have been to the Conference Finals multiple times. Their lineup is a two-way terror, and they are able to adapt to any situation. 

Of those two options, I would rather take them to win the East than the Finals. The jump from +280 to +450 is not large enough for me considering the foe they could face. A healthy Suns team looked like an all-time great team in the regular season because they crushed any team in their path. The Warriors have championship DNA and could obliterate any team if they get on a hot shooting streak. Of every team in the playoffs, the two who are the biggest threats to the Celtics are the Suns and Warriors. Therefore, I would ride with them to win the East since they don’t have to beat either of those teams to accomplish this. The Celtics would rightfully be favored over the Bucks (especially with Middleton’s injury) and Philadelphia/Miami. 

Braxton has been writing for Lineups since December 2021 with the majority of his articles focused on the NBA. He is currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania where he has spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group.

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