The Boston Celtics' final boss is not the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston.com's Tom Westerholm writes, but instead the Denver Nuggets -- who knocked off the Cs 102-100 on January 19 in the first TD Garden loss for Boston all season.
"If there’s a big takeaway from Friday’s loss, it’s that the Nuggets looked like the defending champions, and the Celtics looked like genuine challengers to the throne," Westerholm wrote. "With all due respect to the Timberwolves (whose defense makes them a legitimate challenger as well) and the Thunder (who have an electric superstar but a lot of unproven youth), the Nuggets looked every bit like the best team in the Western Conference – the final video-game boss complete with a giant Bowser-sized superstar who stands in the way of a Celtics team in search of a title."
As the only team that's been there and done that -- and beyond talking about having won a championship, we're talking about winning a playoff series -- the Nuggets sport the league's best player of the past several seasons, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, and a lineup that's perfectly built around him.
Minnesota looks the part in the current regular season, but that doesn't always translate to postseason success; especially considering how Rudy Gobert, one of their top two or three players, had his Utah Jazz teams unravel in the postseason. OKC looks the part of a team that will look the part in two years. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder look like the 2009-10 Thunder right now. They may be bounced early in the postseason, but the conference finals may be a year away; with the Finals two years.
The Boston Celtics are 1-3 against the Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Thunder this season
So far, the Celtics have a losing record against the three top teams out west. Their only win came against the Timberwolves at home on January 10, and it took an overtime period to clinch that victory.
That record hopefully improves heading into the playoffs so the team has the confidence to know they can beat all 29 other teams en route to Banner 18.