The Boston Celtics have won 6 out of their last 7 and are now 19-13 and in third place in the Eastern conference. Before this last stretch, the Celtics struggled mightily and many were doubting to ability to contend. With 15 of their next 20 games, the Celtics look like they will be just fine and will finish this season as a 2 or 3 seed in the East. Isaiah Thomas is playing great and everything is great in Celtics land right now.
Isaiah Thomas is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week #NBAVOTE
Retweet to send him to the All-Star game! pic.twitter.com/Xz8CE5tbmq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 26, 2016
That leaves the question where would they be if Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to Beantown?
According to several reports, the Celtics were one of three finalists in signing Durant during the offseason. Had Durant decided to join the Celtics, they would be san improved team with an élite superstar, but would they be a title contender? If you compare that lineup with last years champions, it does not add up. I think even with Durant, the Celtics would be a player away from a title.
A side by side comparison of the Celtics and Cavs starting lineups would like this.
Isaiah Thomas – Kyrie Irving advantage – Leans Cavs
Avery Bradley – J.R. Smith advantage – Celtics
LeBron James – Kevin Durant advantage – Leans Cavs
Kevin Love – Amir Johnson advantage – Heavy Cavs
Tristan Thompson – Al Horford advantage – Celtics
I would consider this a 2.5 to 2 advantage to Cleveland. Also, the two players not in the big three are x-factors who play their role extremely well. JR as a sharpshooter and Thompson as a relentless rebounder. Neither of which the Celtics have. The Cavs big three matched up the Celtics big three are all incrementally better. However, the Celtics would make up ground on the bench. With Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, and Kelly Olynyk rounding out the rotation, the Celtics would be a very deep team with Durant. The Cavaliers with Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson, could not match this young firepower coming off the bench.
In a playoff series, the Celtics would get a boost off the bench, but they would ultimately fall to the Cavs who would still boast a stronger starting lineup. Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford resemble more of a 3 in a big three, and not a 2. Kyrie is the type of 2 a team needs to be a champion. Big picture, the Celtics are still 2 players away from an NBA title. The last week and has been a promising sign for the C’s, but until they get the superstars they need, what does it really matter?