After starting off the 2021/22 NBA season with a middling 25-25 record, the Celtics were hardly looking like candidates for a deep postseason run. Now, after consecutive Game 7 wins over Milwaukee and Miami, Boston will face Golden State in the NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday at the Chase Center.
Celtics star swingman Jaylen Brown acknowledged this week that he heard plenty of trade speculation earlier in the year when Boston’s season was looking less promising, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. During the first half of the season, there was outside chatter about whether the Celtics needed to break up Brown and Jayson Tatum.
“That trade talk was loud, and most of it came from Boston fans,” Brown told Haynes. “It’s a city that doesn’t tolerate excuses. But in reality, early in the season we had a new coach, we had a new front office, I missed about 15 games early in the season and that caused us to not be clicking on all cylinders like we wanted to be. People were impatient, so I understand. But fast forward, we got healthy, we got everybody back and now the sky’s the limit.”
There’s more out of Boston:
- Veteran Celtics big man Al Horford is expected to have his salary for the 2022/23 NBA season fully guaranteed, regardless of the NBA Finals outcome, sources tell Brian Robb of MassLive. Boston’s Eastern Finals win increased Horford’s partial guarantee from $14.5MM to $19.5MM, while a championship would officially increase it to a full guarantee of $26.5MM. However, given the way he has performed this season – and in the playoffs – it sounds like Horford won’t have to worry about being waived in the offseason, no matter how the forthcoming series plays out.
- Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has indicated that there is “no concern” about the health of starting point guard and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart heading into the team’s NBA Finals matchup against the Warriors this week, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Smart sat out Games 1 and 4 of Boston’s seven-game Eastern Conference Finals series win against the Heat with a right ankle sprain.
- The Celtics are savoring their four-day breather in between the Eastern Conference Finals and the NBA Finals on Thursday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Starting center Robert Williams, who was unavailable for three contests against the Heat due to a left knee bone bruise and played limited minutes in Game 7, looks to be a big beneficiary of break. “Rob’s all right,” Udoka said. “Getting looked at today and will continue to get his treatment and rehab and in order to get swelling down and some of the pain and mobility back. And so it’s going to be an ongoing thing, like I mentioned. He’s day-to-day pretty much throughout the playoffs… [He] should feel better with time in between, especially with these two days off in between games, as opposed to playing every other day.”