Nuggets playoffs: Mapping easiest and toughest paths to repeating as NBA champions

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets
Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets / Brendall O'Banon/Clarkson Creative/GettyImages
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NBA Finals: Easiest - Heat, Toughest - Celtics

It’s pretty clear at this point that the only team in the NBA that could actually match up favorably with the Nuggets is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have their doubters after falling short the past few seasons, and they lost both games to the Nuggets this season.

But this is a 64-win team that just steamrolled through the regular season. They added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to a roster that was already championship-caliber led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics have also put up a historic NET rating this season, and it’s not crazy to think they could cakewalk through the playoffs and make all their doubters look silly.

Even if you think the Nuggets could, should, and would ultimately beat the Celtics in a finals series, it’s hard to argue there’s a tougher possible opponent across the entire NBA. This is the series that all neutral fans should be rooting to see and it has looked like these two have been on a collision course for most of the season.

Technically there are “easier” possible matchups than the Heat, like the Hawks or Bulls, but I think the Heat are the easiest matchup out of teams that have any semblance of a real chance. Normally, eight seeds don’t make the Finals, but we’ve seen Miami do it (last year) and the East is pretty weak behind the Celtics. They could channel their black magic for one more run and I don’t think anyone would be shocked.

But we saw how that ended last season and the Heat haven’t done anything to make their team better suited to face the Nuggets. Much like last year, it would just be impressive for them to even make the Finals, but they would have very little chance of actually troubling the Nuggets.