Boston Celtics could actually be underrated heading into playoffs: Analyst

Feb 14, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) and forward
Feb 14, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) and forward / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics' regular season was nothing short of dominant. It was their best campaign in over a decade, with 64 wins and one of the best starting fives in the NBA's history.

To many, none of that matters, though.

Recent playoff collapses have left a certain stink around the franchise that they can't seem to extinguish. The media has stuck the team with the dreaded monicker of "playoff chokers." No matter how impressive of a campaign, nothing matters for the perception of this team until the playoffs.

That seems rather unfair. This group is different from the one that fell to the Miami Heat in seven games last spring. They have also been on the precipice of a championship—more than 98% of the league can say in recent years. John Hollinger of The Athletic cautioned against overlooking Boston in his recent playoff preview.

"The Celtics aren’t getting enough respect as a title favorite after a 64-win season that included one of the highest scoring margins in NBA history at +11.4 per game," Hollinger said. "Recent playoff wobbles are likely the reason it’s been so hard to find Boston believers, so this spring offers a chance for the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era Celtics to put those demons to rest."

The league should fear the Boston Celtics

It's funny that the Celtics get a bad wrap, but so many of their opponents have done far less and seemingly get a free pass. Joel Embiid is the poster child of this double standards. He's one of the most prominent playoff shrinkers in modern sports. The reigning MVP has seen his play and conditioning deteriorate the deeper the 76ers get into the postseason. Yes, he's dealt with his fair share of injuries, but he is on the wrong side of 30; at what point will he see his reputation take a hit?

His supporting cast has never been up to snuff, but Luka Doncic has consistently been an April flameout. His sidekick, Kyrie Irving, hasn't had a signature playoff moment in nearly a decade. Jalen Brunson is a revelation, but this is the first year he has even been in the conversation as capable of carrying a fringe contender. Anthony Edwards has yet to win a series. Shai Gigeous-Alexander still needs to make his playoff debut.

Even without a championship ring, Boston's wealth of experience deserves recognition. All the sportsbooks have them as a clear favorite for a reason. If this unit is fully healthy, only the Denver Nuggets seem like a worthy adversary.

The Celtics cruising the last few weeks has allowed them to fly under the radar. Blowing out teams on national television for months wasn't good enough for some people. Let the haters think about what they want.

A storm is brewing in Boston, and it's coming straight for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.