The formula for winning in the NBA has always been having 1 or 2 superstars and then a good group of role players. That has been the case for most championship teams in the past. However, this season, there are to teams in the eastern conference who have both greatly improved and are both looking to make the playoffs this spring. These two teams are the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. It is hard to imagine that not 4 years ago, they were both championship-contending teams. Both went through some down years, but they are now two of the more competitive teams in the league and they are doing it without any big name stars.
The Celtics are a team that intrigues me. They play a very scrappy style that emphasizes floor spacing and ball movement around the perimeter. Their defense is what really impresses me. Led by Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, the Celtics are one of the best NBA teams at turning their opponents over. This is a very deep team that has established itself as one to be reckoned with under coach Brad Stevens. Very fun team to watch. High recommend tuning in to a game. Just watch their defense; it is very aggressive on the wing.
The Magic have struggled since Dwight Howard left, but they may have found something with this bunch this year, and I think it started by moving Victor Oladipo to the bench and starting Evan Fournier. It also helps that everyone is a year older. Their offense flows usually through Vucevic either doing the pick & roll with Elfrid Payton or posting up and looking for shooters. Coach Scott Skiles has always been known for having very defensive-minded and competitive teams no matter who they’re playing (Just look at his Bulls teams from the mid-2000’s). I like what I am seeing from them so far and hope they continue to play at this level.
Both of these teams have gotten better, but they may need to make one more move via trade or free agency in order to acquire a player who will be ‘the guy’ for them. Perhaps they already have one, it is still a little early to tell. I do think that building from within the organization has helped both squads and I think that they will be contending for a title in the next 5 years, as long as they stay the course.