Draymond Green defends Celtics amid criticism of path to Finals


“Whoever you placed in front of them, they’ve beat down.”

Draymond Green backed up the Celtics amid criticism of their road to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

For a team that has posted a 12-2 record this postseason en route to the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics have taken some heavy criticism as they await the start of the next round of the playoffs. 

Plenty of that reproval has revolved around Boston’s road to the NBA Finals — with the Celtics taking down three teams that were hampered by several significant injuries in the Heat, Cavaliers, and Pacers.

While a team like the Dallas Mavericks have put themselves on the brink of an NBA Finals appearance after beating a 51-win Clippers team and 57-win Thunder roster (and hold a 3-1 series edge against a 56-win Timberwolves squad), Boston’s three series wins are against teams with 46 wins (Miami), 48 wins (Cleveland), and 47 wins (Indiana). 

Warriors forward Draymond Green has never been one to shy away from calling out opposing players and teams during his career. But the outspoken Golden State veteran did come to the Celtics’ defense amid this recent discourse about Boston’s path to the title round. 

“The Celtics make it to the Finals with only two losses and everybody is saying ‘Their road isn’t tough enough,’” Green said on the latest episode of “The Draymond Green Show”. “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.’”

The Celtics have benefited from several opponents losing key cogs in the lineup, taking care of a Heat team without Jimmy Butler in five games. Boston also handled Cleveland in five games, with the Cavs playing without Jarrett Allen in all five matchups, and without Donovan Mitchell in Games 4 and 5. 

Boston took care of the Pacers in one of the closest four-game sweeps in recent memory, with Indiana’s season ending with star guard Tyrese Haliburton sidelined with a hamstring injury in Games 3 and 4. 

But Green disagreed with the sentiment that the Celtics have not been tested this postseason, with Boston gutting its way through several close games and orchestrating an 18-point comeback against Indiana — with most of this run made without an injured Kristaps Porzingis

“[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.”

“Congratulate them on their run,” Green added. “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 have a chance to prove more doubters wrong next week when Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off from TD Garden on June 6.

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