The Boston Celtics entered the 2018-19 NBA season as the No. 1 favorite team to dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, early on, the Celtics failed to live up to expectations from the team who was expected to become the biggest threat to the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. The Celtics have managed to bounce back and keep their playoff hopes alive, but they haven’t figure out how to become consistent with their performance on both ends of the floor.
On Saturday night, the Celtics suffered an embarrassing defeat against the Chicago Bulls, who currently hold the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. However, Kyrie Irving, who finished the game with 37 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, one steal, and one block, doesn’t seem to be concerned about their recent loss against the Bulls. In a post-game interview with Boston Globe, Irving expressed strong confidence that no one can beat the Celtics in the NBA Playoffs 2019.
“In this league, the teams that adapt the quickest, or they adapt at the right time, are successful in the playoffs. We’re still waiting for that thing to click. We’ve gone on eight games, six games, four games winning streaks and then we’ll hit a lull of three games and we’re back answering questions like this, so, it is what it is. Like I said, I don’t get frustrated about this stuff anymore. It’s just part of the regular season. In the playoffs, when we can plan for a team, prepare for a team, I still don’t see anybody beating us in seven games.”
Kyrie Irving isn't too concerned about the Celtics' struggles. Why? "Because I'm here." https://t.co/dFam5tffOt— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) February 24, 2019
It’s easy to understand why Kyrie Irving is very optimistic about the Celtics’ playoff chances. Despite not making any blockbuster deals before the February NBA trade deadline, the Celtics still have one of the most talented rosters in the league right now. If they manage to improve their chemistry before the real battle begins in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Celtics definitely have a strong chance of winning the 2019 NBA championship.
However, the Celtics shouldn’t be overconfident that they can easily win the Eastern Conference. LeBron James may already be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but other Eastern Conference contenders like the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks shouldn’t be underestimated. All three NBA teams currently have better records than the Celtics and have made massive upgrades with their roster via trade and the buyout market.
The Sixers added an All-Star caliber talent in Tobias Harris. The Raptors boosted their frontcourt with the acquisition of Marc Gasol. The Bucks engaged in a trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire Nikola Mirotic. Unlike the earlier predictions, the Eastern Conference Playoffs is expected to be more competitive in the post-LeBron James era.
If the Celtics fail to at least reach the Eastern Conference Finals, there is speculation that Kyrie Irving will consider entertaining offers from other NBA teams in the 2019 NBA free agency.