NBA title favorites dealt massive injury blow, defending East champs eliminated

May 1, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks for a way
May 1, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks for a way / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

As the Nuggets wait for their big second-round showdown with the Timberwolves to begin, things are heating up around the NBA playoffs. While the main focus for now is on the Western Conference, the ultimate goal, of course, is to win a championship.

So it’s fair to think Nuggets fans may have one eye fixed on the Eastern Conference playoffs and who a potential finals opponent may be. One series in particular should have the attention of Denver and their fans.

That series features the favorites to win it all, the Boston Celtics, and the defending East champs, and Denver’s 2023 finals opponent, the Miami Heat. The Heat are banged up, currently missing their star Jimmy Butler among others. 

Celtics eliminate the Heat in round 1

But they have one of the best coaches in the league and made an improbable finals run as an 8 seed before falling to the Nuggets in five games. However, there will be no repeat of that dream run this season, as the Heat were eliminated from the playoffs on Wednesday night by the Celtics.

The Celtics lost in 7 games to the Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, but they came back with a vengeance this year, winning 64 games, coasting to the number one seed, and now dispatching with the Heat in 5 games, including four blowout wins.

But a big key to the Celtics surge this year has been one of their offseason acquisitions, center Kristpas Porzingis. KP has been a game-changer for the Celtics, giving them a legitimate scoring threat in the post who can torch switching defenses and also pop outside to fire threes.

Injury bug hits the Celtics

Porzingis has also been an elite rim protector this season for the Celtics; a true difference maker on both ends, he has taken them to the next level. But one of the big knocks throughout his career has been his inability to stay on the court. Sure enough, the injury bug has reared its ugly head.

Porzinigs left game four of the first-round series with an apparent lower leg non-contact injury. He missed game five and has been ruled to have a calf strain in the soleus muscle. His status for the rest of the playoffs is now in serious doubt. This is a major blow for the East favorites and something that could have a major impact on their playoff run.