The Boston Celtics were the number two seed going into the Eastern Conference playoffs, but still many people in the sports world counted them out. The main reason was because the Celtics would be missing their two best players for the entire playoffs, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They also lost Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to injuries for multiple games. But one person that can’t get hurt is Brad Stevens, manager of the team and the mastermind behind the Celtics success.
Their first round matchup was against the young and athletic Milwaukee Bucks team. After winning the first two games at home with dominant performances from Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris, the Celtics traveled to Milwaukee, where they were not as successful. They lost the next two games, which emboldened the doubters, and as the series continued, the home team proved to withstand the opponent and win every game. Luckily, the Celtics had four home games and ended up winning the series in seven games.
Their next opponent would be the Philadelphia 76ers led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Only three out of 20 ESPN analysts chose the Celtics to top the Sixers in this seven-game series. Having seven rookies and two injured All-Stars, the odds were against them. But what often goes overlooked is Brad Stevens, the coach of the Celtics. Brad rallied this team of role players and rookies to stomp on the Sixers in the first game at the Garden. They continued to roll, winning the next two close games. The Celtics, injured and short-handed, were up 3-0 in the series against the highly favored 76ers. No one saw this coming; in fact, a lot of people thought the Sixers were going to sweep the Celtics. After losing the fourth game in Philly, the Celtics defended the Garden once again to close out the series in just five games. The Celtics were now 7-0 in playoff games at the TD Garden this season.
But now came their biggest challenge yet: Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had just swept the top-seeded Toronto Raptors. This was a true test for Brad Stevens and the heart of this Celtics team. Lebron James, the King, had gone to eight straight NBA Finals, and now the only thing standing between him and his ninth was a Celtics team that runs strictly through heart and determination. Can Brad Stevens withstand Lebron James with his shorthanded team or will they once again fall to the hands of the King? The Celtics took the first two games, but were dominated by the Cavs in the third and fell short in the fourth. They return home to the TD Garden for Game 5 on May 23.