Steve Kerr is quite familiar with the team of the present in the Eastern Conference, as his Warriors have faced off against the Cavs in the finals in three consecutive years. Ahead of his team’s highly anticipated matchup with the Celtics, Kerr said he believes he’s identified the team of the future in the East: the Boston Celtics.
“It sure looks like Boston is the team of the future in the East, with the assets that they still have and their young talent and their coaching, and Kyrie [Irving] is amazing,” Kerr said on Tuesday. “That looks like a team that is going to be at the top of the East for a long time to come. Whether their time is now or the future, that’s to be determined, but they sure look like they want it to be right now.”
The Celtics are playing some terrific basketball, having won 13 straight games after starting the season 0-2. Irving has been at the center of Boston’s resurgent play, and it’s his play on the defensive end that is most surprising—Irving, still just 25 years old, has served as a key piece for a defense that’s first in the NBA in defensive rating.
Irving’s decision to leave a perennial championship contender in Cleveland for what he perceived to be greener pastures in Boston has never looked better, as Irving is the undoubted leader of a surging young team while the Cavaliers have limped to a 7-7 start.
It’s not just the winning that’s got the NBA world buzzing about these Celtics’ potential, it’s how they’re winning and who’s contributing—the Celtics are benefiting from terrific play from key young pieces. Rookie Jayson Tatum, who is 19, is averaging 14 points per game on 50 percent shooting and 49 percent from three, and second-year, ultra-versatile wing Jaylen Brown continues to improve as his confidence grows.
The matchup with Golden State, who is quietly off to another terrific 11-3 start, will be an interesting early-season matchup of two teams that will fancy their championship chances.
“I just think it’s [Kyrie’s] team,” Kerr said. “In Cleveland, he was such a dominant force, but it was always going to be LeBron’s team. It just looks like Kyrie knows it’s his group, and he’s thriving with that group of players around him. It just seems like the next stage in his development. He knew what he was doing when he decided to leave. I admire Kyrie. Obviously, he’s been a thorn in our side for years, and now he just happens to wear green.”