Golden State have had the league in a stranglehold from the opening tip of the season. Yes, they lost their first match against San Antonio, but the fear of what the team would become left the season seemingly empty. The #NBA Finals had already been decided; a trilogy of two Titans, two franchises who hadn’t seen success in many years or ever, going head to head, potentially for the last time in a long time.
And yet as the season has gone on there have been so many surprises, from James Harden leading the Rockets with no Howard or other all-stars to Russell Westbrook averaging a triple double on a team with Victor Oladipo as the second best player and carrying the squad to the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard has taken the 'Silent Assassin' mentality from Tim Duncan’s retired basketball soul, becoming the man on his team and the Warriors have lost their best player (Arguably).
The Spurs of the East
No surprise has been more shocking than the ascension of the #Boston Celtics. Isaiah Thomas has always been a solid player, but he was trapped in the cancerous organisation known as the Sacramento Kings. Avery Bradley was always known as a defensive player with offensive talent but was never a go-to offensive scorer, Al Horford was an all-star in Atlanta but turned 30 this season and was never thought of as a franchise player. Jalen Brown is just a rookie with a lot of talent and Jay Crowder isn’t an all-star either.
This team was a squad of solid players who lacked a true box office franchise player. They had to rely on their team work and the system they played through. They were reminiscent of the Spurs, or a better Atlanta Hawks when they won 60 games. They were underrated but quietly successful and they now even have an all-star in Isaiah, with mass appeal who can draw other all stars .
And this team enjoyed a lot of success this season. They are only a couple of games out of the 1st seed in the East and defeated some of the best teams in the league, Including the #Golden State Warriors and the Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in extremely competitive matches.
It’s not the size of the dog
This year Isaiah Thomas entered the MVP conversation and whilst he is unlikely to win it, for a player of his stature this is an incredible feat. They are statistically one of the best fourth-quarter teams in the league as well and this is virtually down to Isaiah. A fun fact is that his name was decided in a bet by his Dad, who bet on the Lakers beating the Pistons. After they lost in the finals he was named after Isiah Thomas. his name was later changed to Isaiah because his Mum wanted his name to be more religious. (Thanks to Jalen Rose and David Jacoby for that information.)
The East ain’t no joke
This team has officially become an issue for any playoff team in the East. The question is can they actually challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals assuming they will be there? Brown and Crowder are good defenders for LeBron James and Bradley can guard Kyrie Irving. K-Love will be met by Horford and Kelly Olnyk and they have a very deep team.
It will be a Conference Finals to remember either way and could go all the way to seven games. Boston is coming and could be a finals contender next season. They may also attract one more all-star and solidify themselves as LeBron’s Eastern Conference nemesis so Boston is a team to watch out for the remainder of the season.