The Boston Celtics didn’t sneak up on anybody. Not anybody who was paying attention anyway. Vegas had the Celtics at 30-1 to win the NBA title to start the season. That may seem like a long shot, but there were only four teams in front of them. But just how good the Celtics would be this year — how they would surge past the Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference in late March? That would have surprised even Isaiah Thomas. And Thomas has made a career of meeting the very high expectations he sets for himself.
With the Cavaliers on what can only be called a downward spiral, the Celtics rose into first place for the first time this season — after winning four straight. If Isaiah Thomas is a little surprised, 40-year-old head coach Brad Stevens isn’t. The former Butler University Cinderella coach Stevens is a data fiend and has been very clear about his goal. He told 60 Minutes Sports back in November that the Celtics goal is “to win it all.” Home court advantage in the playoffs will help, if the Celtics can hold on to the top spot.