Grande: Celtics’ Path To NBA Finals Incredibly Difficult 

Celtics radio voice Sean Grande says “you would have to go back decades” to find an Eastern Conference team with a more difficult path to the NBA Finals

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
August 13, 2020 - 11:08 am
Gordon Hayward Celtics

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The Boston Celtics (48-23), who have won four straight games and five of six, will face the Philadelphia 76ers (42-30) in the first round of the playoffs. The 76ers will be without Ben Simmons, but make no mistake: the Celtics' playoff draw is treacherous, to say the least.

“On paper, a lot of people are really high on the Celtics and maybe they can get to the Finals,” Celtics radio voice Sean Grande said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “No Eastern Conference team – you would have to go back decades to find an Eastern Conference team that got to the Finals going through what the Celtics will have to go through. They’ll have to beat Philadelphia, Toronto and Milwaukee in seven-game series to get there. I think only the Lakers – of the top teams – have a tougher path to get to the Finals because they’re going to have Portland in the first round and then Houston or OKC (in the second). But I don’t think an Eastern Conference team has had a difficult path like this.”

The 76ers have lost three straight games and are 3-4 in Orlando.

“Without Ben Simmons, obviously the Sixers lose some bite,” Grande said. “Do they become more Joel Embiid-centric? Here’s what I’ve been saying for months leading up to what became the inevitable: You don’t want to go into a series when the best player is on the other side. I sat court-side and watched LeBron James almost take out one of the greatest teams in NBA history – the 2008 Celtics. He took them to the final minute of the seventh game because the best player was on the other side.”

The Celtics, with Jayson Tatum (23.4 points per game), Kemba Walker (20.4), Jaylen Brown (20.3) and Gordon Hayward (17.5), are certainly more balanced than the Simmons-less Sixers.

“The question is can Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, maybe Gordon Hayward – can somebody else be that best player in the series?” Grande asked. “Because as scary as Philadelphia is, Joel Embiid is going to have to walk the walk here. He’s going to have to have an unbelievable seven-game series to beat the Celtics, but he is one of the guys in the league who is capable of doing it.”