By Barry Hirshfeld
Led by rising superstar Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics “Dream Team”––2008? No–– 2022 Celtics defeat Giannis’s returning championship Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. Anything but an upset, the encapsulating second-round playoff series ends with a blowout in TD Garden. The championship favorite Celtics’s pristine perimeter defense, diverse offense, and willful frontcourt allow them to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and contend against the Miami Heat. Unlike 2020, the Celtics will emerge victorious.
Lacking interior defense due to Robert Williams III knee injury, the Celtics adapt to modern NBA play styles––spreading the floor and relying on their three-point shooting and perimeter-defense to outscore the Bucks. Holding the Bucks to a depressing 12% from three-point range whilst shooting 40% in game seven, the Celtics defense, led by DPOY Marcus Smart, capitalize on Khris Middleton’s absence and swarm the Bucks from long-range; in turn, allowing Giannis to average over 20 points-per-game in the paint over the course of the series: forcing twos and ultimately outsourcing Milwaukee by 28 in game seven.
Running a diverse offense, the Celtics possess numerous shot-creating ball-handlers––most notably Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Marcus Smart– who effectively spread the floor and outplay the Buck’s lockdown defense, led by previous DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo. Forward Grant Williams made 7 three-pointers of the Celtics’ 22––making NBA history, and breaking NBA records for most threes made by a player and a team in a game seven.
From sitting on the Oklahoma Thunder’s bench for load management to performing consistently on the contending Celtics’s “Dream Team,” almost 36 year-old Al Horford makes up for Robert William’s absence and leads the team’s frontcourt. Lacking height, athleticism, speed, etc… archaic Horford’s abundant basketball IQ provides the youthful Celtics team with a veteran presence vital in any championship team. Utilizing his knowledge of basketball, Horford prevented the Bucks from dominating the boards and controlled eager-Tatum and Brown’s impulsivity in late game situations.
The Celtics are in the midst of one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history–– sweeping Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s Nets and defeating Giannis Antetokounmpo’s returning championship Bucks. Boston’s modern playstyle depicts their favorite championship contention against the Golden State Warriors or the Dallas Mavericks, after they inadvertently cruise past the Miami Heat next round.