Brad Stevens believes Kawhi Leonard will make the Raptors a major threat to the Celtics

According to the latest odds in Las Vegas, the Boston Celtics are the favourites to win the Eastern Conference and are predicted to meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. 

It’ll be difficult to find many people disagreeing with this as the Celtics are widely expected to be the best team in the east next season. 

Some of their players are not playing it down either as Jaylen Brown has confidently insisted that they will make the finals. 

Terry Rozier is also predicting that they can do something “truly special” next year. 

There’s obviously real belief throughout the roster, especially as they’ll have their All-Star duo Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back. 

After reaching the Conference Finals without the duo, fans in Boston are excited about what they can achieve with them in the lineup. 

Staying grounded

But with so much expectation and positivity surrounding the franchise, one person has to keep everybody’s feet firmly on the ground and head coach Brad Stevens is happy to take on that role. 

Although he acknowledges that the Celtics are in a good position, he doesn’t want his players to lose focus and get caught up in the hype surrounding them. 

“We can’t skip steps,” Stevens said, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

“We can’t talk about being the favourite. We can’t talk about being in the mix. We can’t talk about being a playoff team. We have to go back and earn all that with our work all the way through.

“The one thing I will say is, you’d rather be in the position of having expectations and having everybody back, because that means the guys in the locker room are the ones that earned it.

“And I think having earned expectations is a positive thing.”

The Toronto Raptors are being tipped to be the biggest threat to Boston, especially after adding Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Stevens made sure to point out that the Raptors finished four games ahead of the C’s last year and he doesn’t see them dropping off after adding a superstar. 

“Kawhi’s ability to impact a game on offence, on defence, I think the addition of Danny Green as well — that’s a really versatile, good team,” Stevens said.

“Toronto was the best team in the East and they added one of the best players in the NBA. So I’m sure they’re excited about their team.”

LeBron James’ move to the west has firmly opened the door for a new team to take over the east and this could be the most fascinating battle in the league next season. 

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