The Boston Celtics aren't quite where they expected to be.
With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward reintegrating into a team that made it to within a game of the NBA Finals without them a year ago, many picked them to be the Warriors' opponent in the Finals this season. Right now, Boston looks far from a juggernaut, but Kevin Durant still thinks the Celtics can reach those lofty expectations.
"It's just the nature of the game," the Warriors star told reporters in Oakland on Monday (via ESPN). "They've got a bunch of young players, they've got a couple veterans that have been through the struggle, so they're still trying to figure each other out. It takes more than just a half a year or a whole year to figure it out. They're just going to keep growing, so what you see right now is probably not the finished product."
The Celtics entered Monday fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 38-26 record, three games back of the fourth-place Philadelphia 76ers in the loss column. They have lost five of their last six and seven of their last 10, but are still in the NBA's top 10 in offensive and defensive rating, per NBA.com.
The Toronto Raptors are the only other team in the East who can say that, and the Warriors (16th in defensive efficiency) can't. Even though the struggles are clear, Durant thinks the Celtics will be alright.
"They're right up there at the top," Durant said. "They've been losing a couple games but they've got the top talent, some of the top talent on that team, so they'll be fine once the playoffs start."
The basketball might no longer view Tuesday's matchup at Oracle Arena as an NBA Finals preview, but it doesn't sound like Durant is ruling out the possibility.