There are only a few games left before the NBA playoffs officially start but the Boston Celtics still haven’t lived up to expectations from the team that was supposed to be the best in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. So far, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is yet to figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of his talented roster. With their current performance, it is highly likely that the Celtics will enter the postseason without home-court advantage in the first round.
In a recent interview with ESPN (transcribed by NESN), former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas talked about the Celtics’ struggle to consistently win games in the 2018-19 NBA season and their chances to make a deep playoff run in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Thomas is aware that some of the Celtics’ young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier needed to make a huge adjustment with their game when Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returned from injury.
However, Thomas strongly believes that Coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics will figure things out when the real battle begins in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
“I mean I was, but they got too many talented guys and that’s not a bad thing,” Thomas said. “Like you see when them guys go all the way to Game 7 (of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals) without the main guys and then the main guys come back, and it’s tough for anybody to take a back seat. So like, it’s tough. I know Brad (Stevens) has a tough job. Those guys have a tough job. Wanting to be where they thought they would be, but guys gotta take a backseat because that’s just what it is. But I mean, they’ll figure it out.”
Isaiah Thomas returned to Boston Monday, and got the kind of reception he craved -- especially from one family, who wouldn't have missed this moment for anything. From @ByJayKing: https://t.co/AqkMAY8pOW pic.twitter.com/lfBxKjuP9z— The Athletic (@TheAthleticBOS) March 19, 2019
It’s easy to understand why Isaiah Thomas remains very optimistic about the Celtics’ playoff chances. Last season, no one expected the Celtics to make much impact when they lost Irving and Hayward to injuries. However, the Celtics managed to prove their doubters wrong. Even without Irving and Hayward, the Celtics finished as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and almost eliminated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals.
Despite their recent struggles, the Celtics shouldn’t be underestimated by other Eastern Conference powerhouse teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadephia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors. They may have failed to consistently win games, but the Celtics currently rank No. 8 in NBA’s offensive efficiency and No. 5 in NBA’s defensive efficiency, according to ESPN.