There are times when the Boston Celtics look like the best team in the NBA. Then there’s the Celtics of Game 1 against the Miami Heat — an inconsistent team that throws away double-digit leads.
The Celtics, as a whole, have been consistent the last six years, and that’s good and bad. They have reached the postseason every year. In fact, they’ve gotten to the Eastern Conference Finals four times in that span. The bad news is they’ve never reached the NBA Finals.
They’ve been painfully close but came up short each time. In fact, it’s been quite some time since the Celtics made an appearance in the championship round.
Is this the year, the Boston Celtics get over the hump?
The Celtics are favored to get to the NBA Finals. That means absolutely nothing. They’ve been in this position before and watched it slip away.
The vibe is a bit different this time around. With the exception of Game 1 against the Heat, the Celtics got most of the bad stuff out of the way early this year. Boston was a completely different team before the turn of the calendar year, and visions of playing in a conference final were nonexistent.
There was Marcus Smart calling out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in November for being selfish. First-year head coach Ime Udoka questioned the team’s work ethic on multiple occasions. The team was out of sync, blowing numerous big second-half leads.
It wasn’t until January when the Celtics turned the corner. Since then, they have never looked back, which leads one to believe this could be their year.
After going 25-25 through the first 50 games, the Celtics closed out the regular season with a 26-6 mark. They earned the No. 2 seed and posted a first-round sweep over the Brooklyn Nets. They took out the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in a grueling seven-game series. Now, only the Heat stand in their way of an NBA Finals appearance.
When is the last time the Celtics reached the Finals?
No NBA team has more championship banners than the Celtics. Boston and its rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, each have 17 championships. The Lakers earned their 17th title in 2020. The Celtics haven’t even been to the NBA Finals since 2010.
It was against those Lakers 12 years ago when the Celtics last played for a championship.
The series came down to a Game 7 in LA. Boston was short-handed, playing without an injured Kendrick Perkins, who provided the Celtics was a physical inside presence.
The Celtics got off to a quick start, leading 23-14 after one quarter, but the Lakers rallied late to pull out an 83-79 victory for their 16th championship.
The Celtics could gain revenge on the Lakers this year, even though LA didn’t even make the playoffs. If the Celtics can muster up seven more victories, they’ll snap that tie with the Lakers and hang Banner No. 18.