The shorthanded Boston Celtics came just one win away from an NBA Finals berth this past season.
Despite the fact that Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving were sidelined, the team’s young core came together for head coach Brad Stevens and nearly pulled off the improbable upset over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Looking forward to the 2018-2019 campaign, there’s a lot to be excited about in Boston.
Hayward and Irving are set to return healthy. The young core led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier will have another summer of work behind them. Al Horford should continue to perform at an elite level on both ends of the court. Brad Stevens should continue to prove that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.
Perhaps most importantly, LeBron is now an LA Laker.
That creates a clear path for the Celtics.
A now-extinct rivalry
But, Brown surprisingly wasn’t a fan of LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland.
“To be honest, I wanted him to stay (in Cleveland),” Brown stated, per Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com. “I wanted to be the team to go through him.”
“I don’t like when people say, ‘Now that LeBron’s gone, now you’re the favorite,’” he said. “That hurts me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel like whether he was there or if he wasn’t there, we were coming.”
Nonetheless, he’s extremely confident about his team’s chances and has his sights set on banner No. 18.
“We’ve got a lot of great talent on this team, with a great coach,” he stated, “so we’re thinking we’re trying to raise a banner.”
Overall, Brown conveyed that Boston is trying to stay in the moment and will avoid looking too far ahead into the future.
“We just want to be the best team that we can be. Right now, that’s what we’re thinking,” he said. “We just want to continue to get better. We don’t know what the final roster is, so right now we’re just trying to be the best version of ourselves and bring that to the table."
"We’ve got to make sure we take care of ourselves,” he continued. “Eat healthy, and start for the long haul. We’ve got to start thinking now, rather than start thinking later.”
It seems as though Brown embraces a good challenge. But, he might be the only one in the Celtics organization that was sad to see LeBron leave.