By Matthew Cunha
The Boston Celtics have won 6 out of their last 7, are now 19-13 and in third place in the Eastern conference. Before this last stretch, the Celtics struggled mightily and many were doubting their ability to contend. With 8 of their next 12 games at home, the Celtics look like they will be just fine and will finish this season as a 2 or 3 seed in the East. That leaves the question of where would they be if Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to Beantown?
According to several reports, the Celtics were one of three finalists in signing Durant during the off season. Had Durant decided to join the Celtics, they would be an improved team with an elite superstar, but would they be a title contender? If you compare that lineup with last year’s champions, it does not add up. I think even with Durant, the Celtics would be a player away from a title.
A side by side comparison of the Celtics and Cavs starting lineups would like this:
Isaiah Thomas vs Kyrie Irving advantage – leans cavs
Avery Bradley vs J.R. Smith advantage – Celtics
Lebron James vs Kevin Durant advantage – leans cavs
Kevin Love vs Amir Johnson advantage – Heavy Cavs
Tristan Thompson vs Al Horford advantage – Celtics
I would consider this a 2.5 to 2 advantage to Cleveland. Also, the two players not in the big three are x-factors who play their role extremely well. JR as a sharpshooter and Thompson as a relentless rebounder which are both assets the Celtics do not have. The Cavs big three matched up the Celtics big three are all incrementally better, however the Celtics would make up ground with the strength of their bench. With Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, and Kelly Olynyk rounding out the rotation, the Celtics would be a very deep team with Durant. The Cavaliers with Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson, could not match the C’s young firepower.
In a playoff series, the Celtics would get a boost off the bench, but they would ultimately fall to the Cavs who would still boast a stronger starting lineup. Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford both resemble more of a 3rd musketeer in a big three, rather than a #1 alpha dog. Kyrie is the type of 2 a team needs to be a champion, meaning on most teams he would be their best player. Big picture, the Celtics are still 2 players away from an NBA title. The last week and half have been a promising sign for the C’s, but until they get the superstars they need, what does it really matter?
Matthew Cunha is a producer on The Drive weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.