The departure of LeBron James took away the Cleveland Cavaliers’ status as a legitimate title contender. Though they still have Kevin Love on their roster, it remains questionable if the Cavaliers can still defend their title as Eastern Conference champions next season. Some people believe that the Cavaliers may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference.
As of now, three NBA teams have emerged as the top favorites to become the new ruler of the Eastern Conference in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. These include the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Of the three NBA teams, All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson believes the Celtics are the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors.
“I like the team out East in Boston,” Thompson said in an interview with ESPN, as transcribed by NESN. “They’ve got a very nice young team. One through five, man, they’ve got a team that kind of mirrors ours, as far as their length, guys who can shoot and play defense, and an unselfish way about things. So I think that they are going to be a team to reckon with.”
It’s not a surprise why Klay Thompson sees the Celtics as the biggest threat to their throne. Last season, the Celtics managed to reach the Eastern Conference finals and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cavaliers despite not having Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With both superstars expected to return 100 percent healthy, Boston is expected to have a higher chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference where they could prevent the Warriors from winning their third consecutive NBA championship title.
— Boston.com Celtics News (@BDCCeltics) September 26, 2018
On paper, there is no doubt that the Celtics are already a legitimate title contender. The combination of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford can the definitely match Golden State’s “Super Death Lineup.” However, the Celtics shouldn’t be overconfident that they can easily dethrone the Warriors.
After winning back-to-back NBA championship titles, the Warriors have managed to make a huge upgrade on their roster with the acquisition of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in the recent free agency. Though Cousins is set to miss the most of the regular season, the Warriors could enter the Western Conference Playoffs 2019 with a starting lineup featuring five NBA All-Stars.
As of now, the Celtics should focus on building good chemistry. In the training camp, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens should figure out how they can bring Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back to their starting lineup without affecting the effectiveness of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.