Danny Ainge envisions competitive Eastern Conference
CLNS Media Network/YouTube

Now that LeBron James has migrated to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference, many have painted a quick path for the Boston Celtics to reach the NBA Finals. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward slotted to return to the starting lineup, the Celtics appear to be the favorites.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge put a halt to the discussion, though. In fact, Ainge believes the East will be a lot more formidable than anticipated.

I think that there’s a lot of good teams in the East that get undersold a little bit,” Ainge said. “I think Washington and Milwaukee’s an up-and-coming team, and Toronto was the best team in the conference last year during the regular season and I think they’re a fantastic team. So, the East is going to be tough.”

The Celtics will also need to navigate the Philadelphia 76ers, who promise to be a better team with a year of experience and the continued growth of former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz.

Boston still has some work to do during the offseason. The team needs to resolve the contract situation regarding guard Marcus Smart, who remains unsigned. The Celtics have had a relatively quiet offseason after making their big splashes last summer.

During the 2017-18 season, the Celtics finished with a 55-27 record and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the 27th pick in the NBA Draft, Ainge selected big man Robert Williams, who projected to have lottery talent–both this year and last.

Keep it here on AXS.com for more NBA news and tickets to select games.