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Green shuts down critics that say Celtics had easy path to NBA Finals

Green shuts down critics that say Celtics had easy path to NBA Finals

Green shuts down critics that say Celtics had easy path to NBA Finals originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics are headed to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years, but critics continue to find ways to diminish the team's accomplishment.

The most common criticism of the Celtics' run to the Finals is that their competition in the Eastern Conference was weak.

In the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics played the No. 8 seed Miami Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler. After splitting the first two games, the Celtics found their rhythm and won the next three by a combined 68 points. The C's defense shut down the Heat over the final three games, holding them under 90 points each time.

The trend continued in the next round, where the Celtics took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This time, the Cavaliers were without Jarrett Allen the whole series and their star guard Donovan Mitchell for the final two games. Once again splitting the first two games of the series, the Celtics adjusted and won the next three straight to end the series in five games.

Advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were prepared to take on a fully healthy Indiana Pacers squad. Unfortunately, star Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton re-injured his hamstring in Game 2, leaving him sidelined for the rest of the series. The Celtics showed great poise in the series, clawing their way back from large deficits in the final two games to earn a sweep.

What does all of that show? Opponents aside, the Celtics continuously found ways to adjust as the series progressed — they tightened up defensively against the Heat, made more of an emphasis on rebounding against the Cavaliers, and proved that they can play through adversity against the Pacers.

To top it all off, they did it without their starting center Kristaps Porzingis, leaning on 37-year-old Al Horford as the primary paint protector.

Often seen as a villain in the NBA, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green chimed in on Boston's critics during a recent episode of his podcast, The Draymond Green Show.

"The Celtics make it to the Finals with only two losses and everybody is saying 'Their road isn't tough enough,'" Green said. "If I'm honest, I don't ever think the East is that tough, but I've also made it to an NBA Finals and lost no games along the way, and no one would say our road wasn't tough enough, so don't give me that 'The Boston Celtics' road isn't tough enough.'"

Green and the Golden State Warriors nearly swept the entire 2017 playoffs. After sweeping their opponents through the first three rounds, the Warriors dropped one game in the Finals, still closing it out in just five games. No matter the opponent, Green knows just how hard it is to accomplish what the Celtics have throughout these playoffs.

"[Critics say] they haven't been battle-tested and all of that," Green added. "Whether they get to these NBA Finals and win or lose will not be because they haven't been battle-tested, let me tell you that. You don't get to the NBA Finals and some point throughout the year haven't been battle-tested — don't happen, won't happen, ain't happening this time."

The Celtics dominated all throughout the regular season, finishing 14 games ahead of the No. 2 seed New York Knicks. No team came close to the Celtics in terms of regular season domination, and they cannot control who they play in the playoffs.

"Congratulate them on their run," Green said. "Whoever you placed in front of them, they've beat down. They let a couple games get away that I actually don't think they should have let get away — nonetheless, they're in the NBA Finals with two losses."

The Celtics will look to get the last laugh over their critics when the Finals tip off on June 6. Boston will take on the Dallas Mavericks, who defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games in the Western Conference Finals.

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