Are the Boston Celtics on course for glory, or at least a shot at it?
The Athletic’s Frank Isola told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Friday he “definitely could see” the Celtics reaching the NBA Finals this season. The veteran NBA reporter bases his Boston bullishness on the team’s 6-1 record, which has put them atop the Eastern Conference standings after two-plus weeks of regular-season play.
Most NBA observers pegged Boston as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference coming into the season, but Isola cites Gordon Hayward’s apparent resurgence as a primary reason why Boston might beat out the Philadelphia 76ers or the Milwaukee Bucks for a spot in the NBA Finals.
“I think they like where they are right now, and they’ve got a really good chance (to reach the NBA Finals) this year,” Isola said of Boston’s fine start. “Last year, everyone was expecting so much from the Celtics. What did they do? They disappointed. This year, they had kind of been floating under the radar. The chemistry is clearly better.
“And really what you have is Gordon Hayward, who is now two years removed from that injury. So he’s a different player. So even though everyone wanted to put everything on Kyrie Irving, let’s remember Hayward missed an entire (2017-18) season. Last year, he had some good moments, absolutely, but he hadn’t been great. He’s kind of back to where they thought he would be.
“I definitely could see them in the Finals. Do I think they can win a championship? I’m not so sure about that. I definitely could see them in the NBA Finals, though.”
While Isola’s assessment will sound like music to Celtics fans’ ears, it’s worth stating the obvious: the regular season isn’t even 10 percent complete, and many things can, and will change over the course of the campaign.
The new-look Celtics entered the season hoping to rebound from the disappointment of 2018-19. Their initial signals are promising, but it’s probably best not to re-set expectations to include a trip to the promised land … yet.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images