The Celtics didn’t win the NBA title this season, but even making it to the Finals represents an encouraging proof of concept for the franchise, Ethan Fuller of writes. Boston adjusted by trading Dennis Schroder away and starting Marcus Smart at point guard, choosing to play a bigger, defensive-minded lineup of Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams III.

“Nobody even had us being here, let alone in the playoffs.” Smart said after the Finals defeat, according to Fuller. “It is definitely tough. But it’s definitely one of those things we’ve been through hell to get here, and you take that. You know what I’m saying? We’ve got to use that. “

Boston sported one of the best defensive groups in recent memory this season. The Celtics struggled to take care of the ball at times, including when they committed 22 turnovers in Game 6 to end the series, but proved they could contend going forward.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previews the Celtics‘Offseason, which will likely include guaranteeing Al Horford‘s salary. Horford, who was pivotal to Boston’s success this season, will make $ 26.5MM next season (only .5 19.5MM is currently guaranteed) if the team chooses to retain him, which is expected to happen.

  • Zach Braziller of the New York Post examines why Ochai Agbaji could be an appealing draft pick for the Knicks. Brazilian believes Agbaji could fit well alongside RJ Barrett, as the 6’5 ″ guard averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds with Kansas last season. The Knicks own the No. 11 pick in the draft and finished just 37-45 last season.

  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald covers several Heat-related notes in his latest mailbag, including whether trading for Hawks star John Collins makes sense. Collins can fit alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in the Heat’s frontcourt, but it would require surrendering future assets. Those assets could be used to acquire a star at a different position if they become available – such as Bradley Beal or Donovan Mitchell. Miami received strong production from PJ Tucker at power forward last season.

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