The Boston Celtics were the feelgood team of the East last season. Like the Portland Trail Blazers out West, they overachieved despite a stripped down squad that looked poised for a rebuilding year. And then they staged a major offseason coup when they landed coveted free agent Al Horford, giving them the superstar-level talent they’ve been bereft of.
That has them feeling pretty confident going into next season, especially Jae Crowder, who made the rather brash comment earlier on Friday that not only is his team not worried about anyone in their conference besides the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers; they are particularly nonplussed about the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s a comment from a person that hasn’t been in the playoffs that much,” Carroll said. “That’s how I react to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level, and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level, and myself going back to the Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes…I think that’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played at that level, so it sounds like a young comment.”
Carroll is right, of course. He went to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals with the Hawks and Raptors the past two seasons, while Crowder and the Celtics have been knocked out of the first round two years running. It’s a mistake to underestimate any NBA team to begin with, and now Crowder has likely sparked a budding rivalry and given the Raptors added motivation every time they match up.