BOSTON – The day after one of the most memorable seasons in the Boston Celtics history ended last spring – and that says a lot, considering the Celtics did not post a title banner – Boston players gathered at the team's training facility where one Question how a fog hovered between the 17 banners ringing the practice floor.
How did the Celtics close the gap to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
As exciting as Boston's season was, led by a 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas turned into an All-NBA player before a blistered hip could not. The Celtics were quickly and insignificantly rebuffed by the Eastern Conference finals in five games by LeBron James & Co. 
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the Toronto Raptors for the third time overtaken in a row with a home win of Game 4 and graduated on May 7, a second consecutive victory.
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The gap between the teams was obvious, and it was clear that the Celtics needed more than just minor improvements to overcome Cleveland's hump. When Al Horford faced a group of reporters before the Boston Breakdown Day, less than 24 hours after the end of the Celtics season, he adjusted the appreciation for the season with obvious uncertainty about what lay ahead.
"We had such a good year, lots of positive things, but it will be interesting to see what Danny [Ainge] and the organization will think of the next step," said Horford.
We now know what the Celtics did: they pulled apart from a team that has won 53 games and earned the number 1 in the East. They boldly swapped the first choice in the draft, confident that they could get their man and add a selection that would contribute to a better future. They landed the biggest fish in the free-range pond. Then they shocked the NBA by swapping Thomas for the rival Cavaliers in a blockbuster from the end of August.
These novel Celtics – only four players from last year's squad – will return to the East Finals for another date with the team The Cavaliers after a 114-112 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5 of a semi-final series Wednesday night in TD Garden.
So much has changed, for the Celtics and Cavaliers, even since the beginning of the season. Cleveland threw Thomas out of the race as part of a massive seasonal recruitment, while a young Celtics team remained stubborn by a relentless injury mistake that devoured Gordon Hayward on the opening night and then returned to Kyrie Irving later in the season
new roster, the same question remains: did the Celtics narrow the gap to the Cavaliers?
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Five minutes into the opening game from Boston in Cleveland, Hayward fell awkwardly as he tried to give Irving a wrong path. His ankle bent awkwardly as he crashed to the floor. Computer models that joined the Celtics to gain the East hired them for a .500 troop that was to land in the middle of a crowded east.
The Celtics kicked off a 16-game win streak at the start of the season, even without Hayward. The injury problem returned too late, and during a March 11 game against the Pacers, the Celtics lost to Irving, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis for the remainder of the regular season.
Few outsiders expected Boston to stay long in the postseason, and Horford had confidence in his young team-mates.
"I've seen the way these guys prepare," Horford said after winning Game 5 on Wednesday. "They want to be great and they understand that it's bigger than them, it's about the team and you have to get things right, the way they prepare and how we've been so resilient all season does not surprise me at this point. "Smart returned to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Celtics' first tier and helped the team pull out a win in seven games.
A rally of 22 in Game 2 against the Sixers helped Boston send the process to five games.
Yes, the Celtics managed to find ways to limit the impact of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. But now they have to find a way to do what no team in the East has done since Celtics 2010: Beat LeBron.
Are the Celtics better equipped this year? They have more wing pieces to throw James, including Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
But will young players like Tatum, Brown and Terry Rozier continue to thrive for Boston?
"Obviously the guys went down all year, it's like you never know who's coming down, stuff like that, but we can find a way," said Rozier, who shone as the team's starter since Irving lost for the season was. I'm not saying we're better or not [than last year’s team] but we definitely go back to the final of the Eastern Conference, and that's a blessing. How many things have changed in Cleveland Four of the 10 players from Cleveland's opening night are out of the team, with three starters missing: Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose went to Utah for Rodney Hood and Dwyane Wade was taken to Miami In addition, Iman Shumpert went to Sacramento in exchange for George Hill.
The new Look Cavs strangled the Celtics in Boston in early February – no less on a day when Paul Pierce's No. 34 went to the rafters – but For the Cavaliers who settle for # 4 in the East seldom ran smoothly for the Cavaliers.
LeBron James & # 24; double-double from 24 points and 10 assists leads the Cavaliers to a 121-99 victory over Kyrie Irving and the Celtics on February 11.
And yet, even after they appeared vulnerable to the pacemakers in Round 1, the Cavaliers seemed to play their game with an absolutely reckless Sweeping the Tip (19659002) The Cavaliers have won five consecutive games and seven of their last eight to reach the conference finals for the fourth year in a row.
"We've had four or five seasons in one, we've talked about it all year, we know what the narrative was about our team," James said. "But I can only speak for the moment, so in order to position ourselves where we can represent the Eastern Conference in the finals, that is all you can ask for, so we are happy to once again attend the Eastern Conference and the Possibility to compete for a championship.
"That's our goal. We're really glad.
James' supporting actor, who was recently detained in a Saturday Night Live stint, could finally find his groove, with only two players in the first round against Indiana double digits, six against in the semis Toronto.
"We talk about the whole course of this long season, just getting better, getting better. We'll be happy to see the playoffs begin, "said Cavaliers coach Ty Lue. And the boys, we get a lot of different posts from many guys. We have a lot of people who play well, good teamwork.
"We need to keep improving, we only talked about it during the playoffs: getting better and finally getting a good rhythm."
Did the Celtics close the gap to the Cavaliers? The question will not be answered until we see these Celtics in full strength, but coach Brad Stevens will not allow his team to use absenteeism as an excuse for not being more competitive than last year's Eastern Conference finalists.
Celtics made their off-season moves without any guarantee that the trains would make for a better team. But even with all adversities you can see the potential of this team. Boston has a very bright future, but as this season has proven, these players do not want to wait to be great.
"After Gordon, Kyrie, Marcus and Theis went down, nobody expected us to go to the Eastern Conference finals," Tatum said. "We just keep proving that people are wrong and having fun while we do it."
Rozier had a bit of fun when asked what would happen in the next round. He smiled and offered some advice.
Rozier said: "Stay tuned."