Moore: How Celtics Have Proven Themselves Despite Critics Questioning Path

Moore: How Celtics Have Proven Themselves Despite Critics Questioning Path article feature image

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

All Boston did was win.

The Celtics won games all year long — from the preseason through the final night of the campaign — and finished with one of the best regular seasons in NBA history.

They won in the playoffs, going 12-2 on their way to the NBA Finals for the 11th time as conference champions in their illustrious history after sweeping the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Yes, the Celtics faced an Eastern Conference full of injury-ravaged, lesser teams than the West. Yes, the Celtics faced the Heat without Jimmy Butler, the Cavaliers without Jarrett Allen (and later Donovan Mitchell) and the Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton.

But they won. They won, and they keep winning.

The Celtics were questioned for their ability to beat good teams, but they're 11-9 vs. teams with a 60% win percentage or better. They were questioned for their ability to win close games, but they were 21-12 in the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs in the clutch.

Yes, it was the Pacers. Yes, there were any number of ways that they tripped on their own yard rakes and hit themselves in the forehead. But they won.

The Celtics didn't ask for this blessed-by-the-gods path to the Finals. They weren't offered a menu of opponents with or without injuries. They secured the No. 1 seed and home court throughout the playoffs, and all they've done is defend that.

Boston is 7-7 against the spread, despite inflated spreads from its regular season resume and missing its starting center for the duration of the playoffs. That's average, but it still got the job done to reach the Finals.

No team has ever had this kind of good fortune. The Celtics truly haven't been tested, which some will use as cause to doubt them.

But the reality is that the Miami Heat — with or without Jimmy Butler — are a pain, and Boston dispatched them.

The Cavaliers were still a 48-win team even without Mitchell and Allen. (OK, I'm stretching there.) Boston moved right past them.

The Pacers were legitimately a pain. They had plenty of chances to fold. This was Indiana's first real playoff run, and it just kept coming. The Celtics didn't lose a single game to it.

The Celtics will (probably) face a serious threat in the Finals. The Mavericks (up 3-0 in the WCF) are riding the wave of a team that feels like it's destiny for them. They close games with their stars and their defense is tremendous.

(I say probably because at this point I'm waiting for Luka Doncic to get struck by lightning — God forbid — or Kyrie Irving to fall off the face of the flat Earth or something because that's how Boston's fortune has been.)

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But the idea that Boston will just wilt is ridiculous. It's been better all year. It's been in position to rest its players more, be healthier, win its games, and the market believes it should be the favorites to win the title — as it has the entire season from the time it traded for Jrue Holiday.

The Celtics match up well with the Mavericks and are 6-0 on the road in the postseason. Kristaps Porzingis is likely to return in the Finals and the rest of the team is healthy with nine days to go before Game 1.

Boston isn't the most exciting team. Its story isn't rife with drama. It's just been here over and over in the last seven years with Tatum and it finally has a team strong enough that its weaknesses aren't fatal.

No, Boston hasn't impressed. No, Boston hasn't won every game by 30.

But all Boston has done is win.

And there's every reason to believe it'll continue to do so until banner 18 hangs in the Garden.

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