The Boston Celtic will embrace the challenge that Kawhi Leonard brings with him to the Eastern Conference
After LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics were in a tier of their own in the East. There was not a single team that should have been able to contend with them, but that is not how they wanted it.
The Celtics have embraced and flourished with adversity throughout this entire rebuild, and they are always at their best when things appear to be getting harder. With an incredibly easy Eastern Conference, no team would have pushed the Celtics to their best, and that would hurt their chances later on, and make them more susceptible to an upset in the playoffs.
With Kawhi Leonard on the Toronto Raptors, all of that changes. All of this is predicated on Leonard actually playing this full season for the Raptors, but we have to assume that he will be suiting up for them.
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The Raptors were an incredible team last season, and Leonard will instantly make anyone significantly better. They may not have the overall talent or depth of the Celtics, but they have a lot of good pieces, that the Celtics certainly need to be worried about.
This will force the Celtics to look for more and better ways to battle the Raptors, and that will allow them to discover more of what they are capable of.
Being in the same division will also give them many opportunities against this team. The Celtics want to be challenged, and they have the mentality that they want to beat the best in the NBA. Getting to the Finals would have meant very little for the Celtics for this trade, and now it will be somewhat of an accomplishment.
The Celtics should still be favorites, but it is not a given that they will make the Finals, and this should give them an intense and hard fought playoff series, helping them prepare for the impossible challenge that will be waiting in the Finals.
There is no doubt this makes the East harder for the Celtics, and this could end up hurting the Celtics in a lot of ways. For the Celtics to be at their best, and for them to show the NBA how good they are, Leonard will help bring that out.
The Celtics are in a special position this season, and the Raptors are going to be desperate. There may not be as much talent as the West, but the best rivalry in the NBA could easily be between the Celtics and the Raptors.
This is just another way for the Celtics to find motivation, and the more things in their way the more they usually bring. It is tough to know exactly what to expect from either of these teams, but this Leonard trade was a spark the entire Eastern Conference needed.