It looks like there is no doubting that the Boston Celtics are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
According to NBA TV’s “The Starters,” the Celtics’ biggest concern entering the 2018-19 season is finding enough minutes for their stacked roster:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 9, 2018
The Toronto Raptors are obviously the biggest threat to the Celtics’ supremacy in the East, while the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards lurk behind. Oh yeah, the Cleveland Cavaliers are also around, and according to Tristan Thompson, are still the team to beat because they’re the defending Eastern Conference champions, via ESPN:
“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain’t got much to say. Boston, Philly, they ain’t got much to say,” Thompson told reporters on Thursday. “Boston had homecourt Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept. Toronto — we already know that story. So until someone takes us down, there’s not much they can really say.”
Now that we got that comic relief out of the way, there’s no reason to believe the Celtics shouldn’t represent the East in the Finals unless a catastrophic injury occurs. They had the best defense in the NBA last season and that was without two of their star players. They were within one game of the NBA Finals against the LeBron-led Cavaliers without both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. And considering Irving has committed to his desire to re-sign with Boston, the Celtics have to be feeling pretty good about themselves.
The Celtics are the team to beat in the East and everyone else, yes, the Cavaliers included, have to prove that they can beat Boston after tipoff.