Justin Bishop ‘24
The Boston Celtics have set themselves up to be the next champions of the NBA Playoffs.
The Celtics are in their first season with their new management and front office after Brad Stevens took over as General Manager and Danny Ainge, the former GM, decided to retire after 18 years at the position.
Brad Stevens’ first move as General Manager was to fill his previous role of Head Coach and he did so with Ime Udoka. Udoka is a former player that bounced around five teams over seven years, but found his calling as a coach. He started coaching as an assistant in San Antonio under the legendary coach Greg Popovich, where he then climbed his way to the top and landed the Celtics head coaching job this past offseason.
The team started the first half of the season very slowly going 20-21, but something clicked amongst the players as they finished the season with a record of 51-31.
The Celtics made history by having the best end of season record by any team in history that was below .500 percent winning at the halfway mark. This simply means they finished the second half of the season better than any other team that was below .500 percent at game 41 of the season, in history. This proves that the Celtics can turn it on at any point down the line. They created a system where they know what works and clearly have the talent to pull off a championship run.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need no explanation for what they bring to the table, because they both bring everything, offense and defense, they are franchise caliber players that are 24 and 25 respectively.
Two other names to keep an eye out for this series are Marcus Smart and Al Horford. Smart is a Defensive Player of the Year finalist and will most likely win it this year after being snubbed last year. Al Horford is back on the Celtics, after spending the last year with Conference rival the Philadelphia 76ers, he is a reliable big man who can play Center or Power Forward and give you 10 or more points and rebounds a night with ease.
The Celtics will face off against the Brooklyn Nets, who knocked Boston out of the playoffs last year in the first round. Notable players on the Nets are ex-Celtic Kyrie Irving and superstar/former MVP Kevin Durant.
Celtics fans will let Irving hear it in the two games in Boston and it will be interesting to see what happens, but the Celtics will win in four games and move on to face most likely the Milwaukee Bucks and then match up against the Miami Heat and then play either the Memphis Grizzlies or Phoenix Suns for the NBA Championship.
Patrick Walsh ’24
This year the Phoenix Suns will be crowned champions of the NBA.
This year’s season has been the definition of a revenge season for the Suns. They have not skipped a beat and have dominated the NBA all season, posting an NBA-best 64-18 record. That record is tied with the 1973 Boston Celtics for the sixth spot in the NBA’s best all-time records. This team is one of the most complete teams in the league because of their depth: they are stacked top to bottom.
Leading the way is three-time All-Star, Devin Booker, who averages just over 26 points per game. The veteran point guard, Chris Paul, is the backbone of this team who averages a double-double nearly every game, and center Deandre Ayton, a former number one overall pick in 2018, is a dynamic presence down low.
The Suns are made up of hardworking, strategic players who find ways to win, no matter the opponent. Some of the young players that have played major roles in the Sun’s success are Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson, and Mikal Bridges. These players have stepped up to start several games because of injuries and have been able to eat up minutes and perform well so that the stars of the team are less pressured.
Some of the leaders of this team, Paul, Jae Crowder, and Booker, speak very highly of their teammates and have shown the chemistry they have created as a team all season. Having good leaders on and off the court makes a big impact on your team, providing examples for newer players as far as what is expected on and off the court.
The Suns are also backed up with an incredible fan base that loves packing Footprint Arena on game day. The players feed off the energy from the crowd and are very thankful for the Phoenix faithful. “This crowd is crazy,” point guard Chris Paul said. “It’s crazy to have all the fans in there. The energy it’s nothing like it. I told the guys this is why we fought so hard in the regular season to get home-court advantage, and I think we truly have that with our fan base.”
Last season, the Suns came just short to the Milwaukee Bucks in a series that was very entertaining. For Suns fans, it was devastating. For NBA fans around the world, it was bittersweet because one of the league’s best players of this decade, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was able to bring home his first championship. However, Chris Paul, a legend of the game, was left with nothing to show for an unbelievable playoff run.
Paul and the Suns are determined to finish what they started last season and they understand there are no other suitable goals except celebrating a trophy and raising a banner in Phoenix.