After losing three straight games and falling to the superior firepower of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, Celtics legend, Bill Russell is keeping hope alive per his beloved team raising championship banner No. 18 next season.

The former center who won 11 championships in 13 years when he donned the colors of Celtics from 1956-1969 is convinced the team earned its stripes in the course of the playoffs and would be primed for greatness in the next campaign.

Every Team Has a Chance at the Title
Without a doubt, the Celtics proved to be one of the best two-way teams in the course of the regular season, especially at the turn of the year, losing less than ten games between January and mid April when the post-season began.

The team also managed not to lose back-to-back matches in the playoffs (out-classing Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat in the process), but falling like a pack of cards against eventual champions, Golden State.

This shows they are a team with a core primed for laurels. However, other teams, regardless of the conference they belong, are set to seize the off-season hiatus to boost their squad with the missing links per playing and coaching personnel.

Hence, every team will likely put their best foot forward when the new campaign tips-off by late October.

That said, Boston did win two NBA Finals games with a first-time head coach in Ime Udoka, and the experience this young core gained was invaluable. They might just have a shot next season.

Retention of Core Players
Everybody important on this Celtics team is under a long-term deal for a reasonable sum compared to their production. Robert Williams and Marcus Smart both signed four-year deals this past offseason. Tatum signed his max extension the year before. And the year before that, Brown signed his own four-year deal that gave him a significant raise.

Al Horford is under contract for one more year but he is not a long-term part of this core like the above names. Payton Pritchard still has two years left on his rookie deal.

The only key playoff rotation player who is in danger of leaving is Grant Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract next season and his contract negotiations will be tough to parse out.

Tatum Must Step Up
What this all really comes down to is Boston’s best player in Jayson Tatum taking another quantum leap in his game. The 24 year old has to play at an MVP-level next season and become an undisputed top-five player in the league.

If he can become Boston’s version of what the Bucks have in Giannis Antetokounmpo, maybe then the Celtics will get to raise championship banner No. 18 like Russell suggests.

While the Massachusetts based team should be in the mix and contend to win a league title next year, the Celtics are not the top favorites.