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The Improbable Playoff Run

Photo courtesy of David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

All aboard! The Celtics bandwagon is taking off and running out of room fast. You may have heard that this team is without their two superstars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. That doesn't seem to be stopping them from competing in this year's playoffs. This improbable run started with the Milwaukee Bucks. Not an easy matchup by any means, but not one, even without Irving and Hayward, they should have lost anyway. Nothing like getting your playoff run started with a 7 game first round series. The C's persevered and faced a matchup with the 76ers. This is where the doubt truly began from many fans and experts. While much of the NBA world was gearing up for a 76ers sweep over the Celtics, this C's team showed the doubters that they were much more than a superstar dependent team. The balance of this roster from starters to the 2nd team to the role players has been spotlighted during this playoff run. Brad Stevens (despite not receiving a single vote from his coaching peers for coach of the year) has shown just how important he is to this team as well. He knew that the 76ers were a 3-pt dependent team. The defense was ready to shut down those shots, confusing the 76ers for much of the series. They also exposed Ben Simmons' unwillingness to shoot the ball from further than 5 feet from the basket, shutting down another offensive weapon. Mix that with timely offense from Rozier and Morris and the continued excellence of the young guns Tatum and Brown, and the C's were able to handedly take down the 76ers 4-1 in the second round. 

Now is time for the biggest test of all. Can this Celtics team finally move past the brick wall to the NBA Finals that is LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers? The easy answer is no chance. But given what we've seen in the first two rounds, why can't this team do it? The C's took Game 1 with ease, winning by 25 points. They also improved to 8-0 at the TD Garden in this year's playoffs. Tonight is a crucial Game 2 where the C's can take full control of this series heading to Cleveland. I don't think even the greenest of green teamers can expect another beatdown of the Cavs tonight. It would be nice, but very unlikely. If the Celtics continue to play tough D around the perimeter and limit scoring to mainly LeBron, they will be alright. Marcus Morris has backed up his talk so far about being able to defend LeBron, so let us hope he can continue it throughout the series. Even if LeBron puts up his usual 30-40 points per game it'll all come down to what his supporting cast can do. Offensively, it seems like the Celtics will be able to do whatever they want. This Cavs team's weakness all year has been their defense and that showed big time in Game 1. Multiple times they were unable to stop Celtics runs, putting the game out of reach fast. Expect a bounce back game from Terry Rozier, which should balance out the inevitable cool down of Marcus Morris. If the Celtics are to take Game 2 and most importantly this series, it is going to rely on the play of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It's a lot for the 20 and 21 year olds to take on, but they've proven all season that they are ready to take the next step. Who knows, maybe by next week I'll be sitting here writing another article, this time about the Celtics chances in the NBA Finals.

For more, follow Ricky on twitter: @RickyG43_BSoT

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