Celtics

JJ Redick picks the Celtics as favorites in the East

Redick pointed to Boston's offseason acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon as a key reason for his choice.

Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon drives to the basket against James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at TD Garden on October 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics began the 2022-23 regular season on the right foot, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 126-117 on Tuesday night.

Many around the NBA feel that the success Boston had in the opener will continue deep into the postseason, where the Celtics came just two wins away from a championship last year.

One such believer is former NBA player and current ESPN analyst JJ Redick.

Asked on Wednesday’s episode of ESPN’s “First Take” if he thought that the Milwaukee Bucks would make it to the NBA Finals, Redick responded, “I think the Boston Celtics are the favorites in the East.”

He went on to explain that the injuries that Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton are dealing with concern him about Milwaukee’s chances to win the East, and pointed to an offseason acquisition by the Celtics that he believed was the team’s missing piece.

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“I look at what the Celtics did on their roster this offseason, and adding Malcolm Brogdon,” Redick said. “He fills a need that they had off the bench, and he was great [Tuesday night against Philadelphia]. I expect the Celtics – they should be the favorites to come out of the East.”

While Redick may be sold on the Celtics going back to the Finals, one of his colleagues at ESPN is not.

Appearing on “First Take” on Tuesday, Stephen A. Smith said he believed that Ime Udoka’s suspension would be the reason the Celtics are unable to return to the NBA Finals.

Smith called Udoka an “exceptional coach,” and said that, despite Boston’s offseason acquisitions, his loss would be too much for the Celtics to overcome.

“I can’t summarily dismiss the Boston Celtics – they are the reigning Eastern Conference champions, and with [interim head coach Joe] Mazzulla there, we’ll see what he does,” Smith said. “But I believe that Ime Udoka is that special of a coach that [the Celtics returning to the finals] won’t happen.”

Smith went on to pick the Brooklyn Nets, who were swept by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last year, to make it to the NBA Finals.

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