Despite dropping game six in double overtime, heading into game seven Bleacher Report still views the Boston Celtics as favorites in this series.
The fate of the 2019-20 season for the Boston Celtics comes down to tonight in an epic game seven fashion.
After finally re-taking the series lead back in game five, the Cs had a real chance of clinching an Eastern Conference Finals berth this past Wednesday and, right out of the gates, the game looked like theirs for the taking. Unfortunately, after two overtimes Toronto ended up stealing the victory and, in turn, kept their hopes of repeating as world champions alive, if only for just another day.
Tonight, both teams find themselves on the brink of elimination and, though Boston’s All-Star point guard Kemba Walker feels confident about his team’s chances, as far as the Houdini’s concerned, this outing is absolutely up for the taking.
As far as Bleacher Report’s concerned, however, they still see the Boston Celtics as having the second-best odds in the east to win the Larry O’Brien trophy by season’s end. As recently as this morning, writer Andy Bailey bestowed the shamrocks with a +950 championship odds, with his reasoning reading as follows:
Jayson Tatum has never had a triple-double in the NBA, and the 3.0 assists he averaged this regular season were a career high. Those aren’t strong indicators that he’ll get his first this postseason, but that’s the prediction.
He came up one assist shy of the distinction in Game 6 against Toronto, finishing with 29 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in the double-overtime thriller. Whether it’s in Game 7 against the Raptors or in the conference finals against the Miami Heat, he’ll pull off the feat before the playoffs end.
The deeper Boston gets, the more focused defenses have become on the 22-year-old wing, and he’s responded by making the extra pass when he needs to do so. In the second round, he’s averaging 5.0 assists. And with defenders like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala waiting for him, he’ll have to keep that trend going.
Creating for others is the next evolutionary step in Tatum’s ascent to superstardom, and this playoff run suggests he’s ready to take it.
Subsequently, Bailey gave the Raptors a +1200 chance of winning this year’s title, and believe’s first-time All-Star Pascal Siakam‘s struggles will be a contributing factor towards their demise.
Against Boston, specifically, Siakam has struggled mightily when hounded by the rising stars on the wings. He’s 8-of-27 with Jaylen Brown as his primary defender and 7-of-18 when guarded by Jayson Tatum.
Expect that to continue in Game 7. The size and athleticism of both players make it difficult for Siakam to go around or through them, and he doesn’t have enough counters on the perimeter or prowess as a shooter to flip the script.
What say you Celtics fans? Does Boston live to fight another day? Will Toronto continue on their path towards a championship repeat?
While we can’t say for certain who will win — though we pray to the GODS it’s the Cs –, we’re sure gearing up for what should be an entertaining climax to an unbelievable Semifinals series.
As always, folks, go Celtics!