Out of the likely playoff opponents the Celtics will face (Miami, Washington, Milwaukee), who would you PREFER Boston plays in the first round?
Hunter Perkins: Anyone but the Bucks. That team is starting to look scary. Giannis is a mismatch nightmare. He can dominate Horford with speed and Tatum with strength, and he showed that the other night. Jabari Parker is also looking unreal. His knees are back along with the rest of his game, and that increases the Bucks’ ceiling dramatically. The Miami Heat would be my first choice. They lack a true star and Hassan Whiteside has been making more noise in the locker room than on the court. Boston could get it done in five games.
Nick Cherico: This was a tough choice, but I’m going to go with Milwaukee here. There is nothing exciting about having to go up against Giannis in a 7-game series, but I don’t like how they’ve looked as of late. They barely beat us a few nights ago with Kadeem Allen starting at point guard. No knock against him, but am I really supposed to be afraid of a team that almost lost to the Celtics G-League roster?
Devon Clements: I would have to say Miami. The Wizards are a nightmare matchup for the Celtics with John Wall back in the lineup, and the Greek Freak and company are a “lengthy” matchup to say the least. When you look at that and then look at the roster of Miami, there is no doubt I will take a matchup against a team that wouldn’t make the playoffs if it wasn’t for Erik Spoelstra.
Cory Prescott: Erik Spoelstra’s mastery as a head coach, Pat Riley’s history against the Celtics and the fact that the Heat can present so many different looks has me nervous. The Bucks nearly lost to a Celtics team starting Kadeem Allen at point, and would have a substantial disadvantage in the coaching category. Giannis would be the best player in a potential Bucks-Celtics series, yet this matchup would likely scare me the least.
Who’s your Coach of the Year?
Perkins: One week ago I would have said Dwane Casey. The Raptors have been phenomenal all season and get more out of their bench than anyone. Unfortunately for them, recent losses against a depleted Celtics team and a Cavs team that can’t spell “defense” have hurt his case. Call me a homer, but Brad Stevens deserves this. The Celtics could build a formidable starting lineup with their injured players, but don’t tell Stevens that. No matter who has been available, Stevens has gotten the most out of them and made them a contender. You just can never write this team off as long as that guy is on the sidelines.
Cherico: There is a strong case for Quin Snyder in Utah, but I have to go with Brad Stevens. What he’s been able to accomplish this season after all of the injuries and roster turnover has been nothing short of spectacular. To wind up winning more games than last season while also acclimating a bevy of new faces alone gives him my vote.
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) April 6, 2018
Clements: No doubt Brad Stevens. When your lineup has been decimated over the course of the season like the Celtics has and you go out and beat teams like Oklahoma City, Toronto and Portland (just to name a few) and you still go into the last week of the season in the hunt for the No. 1 seed, I have no reason to think otherwise that Stevens deserves the award. What Dwane Casey is doing with the Raptors is phenomenal, but has he really had to deal with adversity this year? I think not.
Prescott: Dad jokes aside, it has to be Stevens, right? He’s gotten the Celtics close to a 60-win mark this season having gotten 60 games and five minutes from their two most important players (and about half of the team’s salary). Imagine the Cavs getting the same treatment with LeBron James and Kevin Love or the Thunder losing Russell Westbrook and Paul George for similar amounts. No matter who’s on the court, he continually puts them in a position to succeed.
How about MVP?
Perkins: James Harden. This is a guy that probably should have one of these under his belt already. Harden is the most unstoppable player on offense in the league, and his once ridiculed defense has improved a lot. Harden is averaging 30.6/5.4/8.7 for the team with the best record in the league. He has a stupid good highlight reel and has made clutch shots all season. It’s Harden’s turn to take home the hardware.
Cherico: This might be an unpopular opinion, but I have to go with Anthony Davis. When Boogie went down, everyone wrote the Pelicans off. Davis put that entire team on his back and has carried them to what might ultimately end up in a playoff spot. I think its James Harden’s award to lose at this point, but AD would get my vote.
Clements: My MVP is James Harden. Every year Harden continues to amaze me with his ability to score at an amazing rate, and the fact that he and Chris Paul have led the Rockets to the No. 1 seed in a tough Western Conference is a feat in itself. I know many people out there may say LeBron should be MVP, but when he has the whole roster flipped around him and still manages to struggle and lose games, I have a reason to believe it is all happening because of him, regardless of his stat line.
Prescott: Setting aside James Harden’s MVP cases from 2017 and 2015, this is the year for The Beard. He’s set career-highs in scoring and leads the league in three-point and free-throw makes. The Rockets are also seven games ahead of the Golden State Warriors in a competitive Western Conference, and have a clear shot at an NBA title.
In wake of Kyrie Irving's second knee surgery, Celtics signing guard Jonathan Gibson. Story: https://t.co/h2Ikhx7ILB
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 5, 2018
Out of all the realistic possibilities, what’s the one series you’d like to see happen?
Perkins: Cleveland and Philly would be an amazing first-round matchup. The Cavs have gotten hot again since Kevin Love returned. They’ve won 9 of their last 10, basically securing the three-seed in the East. Philly is patiently waiting for Joel Embiid to get back, but Ben Simmons has been absolutely balling. I could easily see this matchup going to Game 7, as Philly actually matches up great against Cleveland. This would be a can’t miss series, and I’m praying we get to see it play to fruition.
Cherico: The matchups out West intrigue me way more than anything going on in the East right now. One in particular would be Portland vs. OKC, who as of today are slated to meet in the first round. Dame vs. Russ would just get me all sorts of hyped.
Clements: This may not be a sexy pick, but I would love to watch a series between Portland and Utah. Both teams have exceeded expectations this season, so to see both teams in a series against each other, I know NBA fans would see playoff basketball in its purest form. With Terry Stotts and Quin Snyder in the coaches box and guys like Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell on the court, you can bet your money that I would watch every game in that series.
Prescott: Russ vs. KD. Lets give the people what they want!