Who’s got next? 1 takeaway from Celtics/Cavs

I’m late getting to this today. Not because I lost track of time. Nor was there something urgent that got in the way. No. I’m late getting to this because, for some reason, League Pass only posted half of the Boston Celtics‘ game-five win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’ve waited and waited for the full game to be posted, but still no joy.

This was a close-out game. Another Game 5 that saw the Celtics progress deeper into the postseason. I would be doing you, the players, myself and the team a disservice if I tried to wing it by posting takeaways from the game itself. I didn’t see enough, nor did I get a second watch in.

So, we’re trying something different. I’ll keep it short and sweet. Hopefully, whatever issue stopped me from watching this game will be fixed by the time the NBA Finals rolls around.

The New York Knicks hold a 3-2 lead over the Indiana Pacers. The series has been a slug-fest. Both teams have thrown haymakers. Both have dealt with stellar performances and some nights where they couldn’t buy a bucket. Indiana is a high-octane offense that loves to play in transition.

New York is like a boa constrictor. They clamp down, squeeze the life out of an offense and slowly grind you into submission. I like to think of their approach as similar to the “bind” move on the old Pokemon games — they soak up some hits before unleashing a flurry of their own.

There’s no such thing as a perfect matchup in the NBA. Both the Pacers and Knicks come with their own set of hurdles. Indiana will run you into the ground. New York will bring physicality and force to the equation. Whoever the Celtics face, they have a tough opponent on their hands.

Ignore the media narratives, though. This Celtics team is battle-tested. Maybe not in this playoff run, but Boston has earned its spot among the best rosters in the NBA over the years. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been to war for this franchise. Al Horford has been there every step of the way. Derrick White went to the NBA Finals with this team. Jrue Holiday is playoff-tested and a former champion. The list goes on.

This Celtics team knows what it takes. They have what it takes. And they’re cooking everyone in their path. Yes, harder tests still await. A potential matchup with the Denver Nuggets is terrifying. But you can’t look that far ahead. Not yet. Not right now. Instead, the Celtics must wait. Sooner or later, their next opponent will become clear, and they can begin prepping for how to attack their weaknesses and limit their strengths.

Boston’s been here before. Multiple times. That’s where their advantage lies. Neither Indiana nor New York’s roster has gotten this far — not as currently constructed. They’re swimming into the deep waters with no clue how to deal with the undertow. The pressure gets heavier at this stage. The additional eyes. The final four. New York or Indiana will be learning how to navigate all of the off-court stuff that comes with being in the conference finals. For the Celtics, this is par for the course.

The conference finals are almost here. The Celtics will be ready. They’ve gone 8-2 in their first 10 games. They’ve seldom looked like a team that’s been overhyped. New York or Indiana, it really doesn’t matter. Either team is just another stepping stone on the road to Banner 18.

Still, if I made the choice, I would choose the Knicks. The “Battle of the Gardens” will be so much fun. Especially if Tatum or Brown go for 40 in New York’s backyard.

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