With the Cavaliers‘ late season slide and the Celtics‘ surge, Boston grabbed the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs. With it comes higher expectations, although the Cavs have the best odds among Eastern Conference teams to win the title.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge would agree with those odds. Not only did he send a warning to his own team, boiling down to not overestimating themselves because of their No. 1 seed, but he also painted the playoff picture with Boston being behind the defending champion Cavs. Luckily for Isaiah Thomas and company, Ainge also shined a light on the way for the C’s to win.
“The fear with this (Celtics) team, sometimes they try to win the easy way as if they are the ’86 Celtics or the ’85 Lakers team and they just aren’t,” Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said during his weekly call-in to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, via CSNNE.com. “If they don’t play with maximum effort for 40 minutes a night, Chicago will beat us.”
Ainge added a statement echoing with his head coach, Brad Stevens, said days prior on who the favorite in the East is regardless of seeding:
“The Cavaliers have the most talent; everybody knows that,” Ainge said. “Some people think that’s conceding by me saying that. But that’s not the case. If I go out and play golf with Phil Mickelson, I think I have a chance to beat him even though I know I probably won’t.”
The Cavs start their title defense Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, while the Celtics begin their first-round playoff series against Chicago on Sunday.