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The Boston Celtics are up 2-0 on the Brooklyn Nets in their first-round series. Both contests have been tightly-contested. Game 1 came down to a Jayson Tatum game-winner while the other featured a 17-point comeback by the Celtics. Nevertheless, Boston is now up in a series that most NBA analysts predicted them to lose.
Despite being the second seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn’s stacked lineup of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving caused most analysts to doubt the Celtics. However, through the first two games of the series, things haven’t gone according to plan for the Nets. Durant is shooting 31.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from deep through the first two games and Irving is coming off of a 10-point Game 2 dud.
Needless to say, the Nets aren’t living up to the high standards that were once set for them. But it’s not just that Brooklyn is struggling, it’s that the Celtics are playing extremely well. Durant may be shooting poorly from the field, but that’s in large part due to the elite defense of Boston. Jayson Tatum has guarded Durant very well this series, and the Celtics’ defense as a whole has been great.
Boston has been so impressive through the first two games of the playoffs, that some are ready to throw out some outlandish takes. Former Celtics champion and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins is the latest to do so, as he made a bold claim on NBA Today.
Perkins Declares Celtics Champions
On Friday, both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Celtics center Robert Williams would be returning (in limited minutes) in Game 3 of their series against the Nets. In turn, Perkins made a wild statement about Boston’s title chances on the April 22 edition of ESPN’s NBA Today:
Book it right now, I’m calling it. The Celtics are going to win the title this year if Robert Williams is the same version that we saw before the injury.
Williams went down with an apparent knee injury during a March 27 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves which ended up being a torn meniscus. He was set to miss 4-6 weeks of action, and Game 3 falls just one day short of that four-week timetable. The big man may only be playing limited minutes, but getting him back at all will be a huge boost for the Celtics.
Al Horford and Daniel Theis have played well as Boston’s starting frontcourt in Williams’ absence, but neither provides the elite athleticism and unique defensive style of Williams. Perkins went on to talk about Boston’s great defense and why getting Williams back makes them virtually unbeatable.
Perkins Says No One Can Beat Celtics
While discussing Williams’ return, Perkins took the time to praise Boston’s recent play. He talked about how well they’ve guarded the Nets’ two superstars, Durant and Irving, and stated that no other team has the firepower to beat them if they are playing at this level:
When you look at Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, and the way that they’re guarding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, I don’t know what other team has those types of players on their squad that they have to be worried about.
Other star duos in the East include Joel Embiid and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks (Khris Middleton is injured), and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. But according to Perkins, the only team that stands a chance against Boston lives out West, saying that there’s no team that can beat them “besides the Golden State Warriors.”
Perkins isn’t just impressed with Boston’s defense, though. He went on to talk about how impressive the Celtics’ offense has been:
Offensively, they’re an offensive juggernaut, the way that they’re moving the ball. You got guys like Grant Williams stepping up. And now you add Time Lord, that lob threat at the basket along with a defensive presence that can switch one through five.
The Celtics look great on both sides of the ball, but before they start looking at the Warriors or any team out West, they need to stay locked in on the task at hand. Right now, the team’s focus is solely set on the Nets. However, Perkins has high, high hopes for this Celtics team.