The Boston Celtics have made a very impressive run toward the end of this NBA season, but after falling to the Bucks in Beantown Friday, the C’s are now ½ game behind the 8th-seeded Heat. If Boston makes the NBA Playoffs, will it be a good team to be betting against or does it depend on who it may get in Round 1?
The Boston Celtics (34-42, 100.9 PF-101.5 PA) and Head Coach Brad Stevens have impressed by making a nice run in the last portion of this NBA Regular Season, but now sitting 8 games under the .500 mark with a 34-42 record and still in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one can see how weak this conference—in comparison with the Western Conference overall—really has been. On Friday night at Home in Boston in the TD Garden, the now 9th-seeded Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-101 as the visitors from America’s Dairyland avoided their 12th straight Road loss, and, the hosts, Boston (4-6 L10), slipped ½ game behind the idle Miami Heat (34-41) for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics (43-32-1 ATS, 20-18-1 ATS Home, 23-14 Away) now have just 6 games left on the schedule—two of them with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (49-27)—with the next one coming Saturday night (tonight) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto against the 4th-seeded Toronto Raptors (45-31) in a game which will obviously be much more important for the visitors from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, these Celtics (NBA League Pass—Team 2, 7:30 p.m./4:30 p.m. PT; Odds: Raptors -3½ -120, Sky Bet; 209, Titan Bet).
And with the setback on Friday to the Bucks, one could find 500/1 NBA odds (+50,000) on Boston win both the NBA Championship (Boylesports; +20,000 Paddy Power) as well as the Eastern Conference (BetVictor), meaning that this team basically has virtually no shot of finishing in that No. 8 spot, upsetting the No. 1 seed, the Atlanta Hawks (56-19) in the conference in Round 1, taking down the winner of the 4- vs. 5-seed series (right now, the Raptors and Washington Wizards), and then knocking off likely either King James and his Cavaliers or maybe a returning Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, all just to get to the NBA Finals (June 6).
Possible Starting Five
C—Tyler Zeller (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
PF—Brandon Bass (10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
SF—Evan Turner (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
SG—Avery Bradley (14.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
PG—Marcus Smart (7.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Bench, Roster Depth
C—Kelly Olynyk (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
PF—Jonas Jerebko (6.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
SF—Jae Crowder (9.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
SG—James Young (3.2 ppg)
PG—Isaiah Thomas (18.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
C—Jared Sullinger (14.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
PF—Shavlik Randolph (1.4 ppg)
SF—Luigi Datome (4.7 ppg)
SF—Gerald Wallace (1.1 ppg)
PG—Phil Pressey (3.6 ppg)
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles (Potential Path)
The Celtics' (#4 in NBA in Assists) final 6 games of the regular Season are against aforementioned Toronto on Saturday night (April 4); at the Detroit Pistons (29-47) on Wednesday (ESPN, 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT); at the 2nd-seeded Cavaliers on Friday (April 10); versus Cleveland again—two days later—this time at Home in Boston (April 12); versus the Raptors again; and, then the Celtics close out the Regular season at Milwaukee against the Bucks (April 15). So, it will be up to them and the two meetings with the red-hot Cavaliers (8-2 L10) could make the difference between this team playing or not playing in the postseason in a couple weeks. Boston (19-19 Home) does possess a very nice and deep roster and can get scoring from a number of places, despite the lack of big names, and the backup PG Isaiah Thomas may be a big key to this team just making, and succeeding in the NBA Playoffs (Saturday, April 18), but it’s important to remember still that this is a team 8 games under .500 and one which allows more points per game than it scores. Not exactly Playoff material, so keep that in mind while making your NBA picks. Anyway, the C’s (22-23 vs. Eastern Conference) will need guys like Turner, Bass, Zeller, Olynyk, Jerebko, Sullinger and Bradley to all play to their potential and also grow somewhat as players as the heat really gets turned up in professional basketball when the Playoffs tip off. One nice edge that this team may have on the 7 others who make the NBA Playoffs, should Boston make it, is Head Coach Brad Stevens, former head man at Butler (in Indianapolis). Stevens is a great tactician and communicator who will always have the respect of his team and be aware of what’s going on on the hardwood and should be a fixture in Beantown for sometime. Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge definitely got the right man for the job. Overall, this team is pretty healthy, although Stevens has said he would shut down Sullinger (metatarsal stress fracture) at the first sign of trouble.
Should Boston end up finishing in the No. 8 seed spot in the East—the Celtics could still also mathematically finish in 7th, currently held by the Brooklyn Nets (35-40), believe it or not—the feeling here is that they could actually be in the right frame of mind (confident) with a number of players being in a groove to make it all happen (with the remaining schedule we looked at above), and Boston could definitely upset the No. 1-seeded Hawks (+300 to win Eastern Conference, bet365), and may be an excellent (both moderately sized) series play on the Moneyline. One thing’s for sure at this point in Time: If they do make the postseason, the Boston Celtics would be much better off sitting in the No. 8 spot and taking their chances with No. 1-seed Atlanta as opposed to finishing in the No. 7 spot and getting a Cavaliers team now running on all cylinders and looking like one of three teams (Warriors, Spurs) which has a realistic chance at winning the NBA Championship this season. Should the Celtics (10-4 vs. Atlantic Division) somehow beat the No. 1-seed (Hawks) or even the No. 2-seed (Cavaliers), things will get real, Real for Boston, but a series win over the Hawks would, at this moment in Time at least, result in a potential meeting with the Raptors-Wizards winner in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in yet another series in which Boston might be able to pull off the upset. But, Cleveland or Chicago certainly won’t be having any of it if the Celtics and mascot Lucky the Leprechaun do somehow miraculously make the Eastern Conference Finals, and it’s important to end with the simple Truth that if the NBA Playoffs started when the final period is typed at the end of this sentence, Boston wouldn’t even be in the postseason, bruh. And not that period you see to the left, this one over here on the right.
PREDICTED PLAYOFF DESTINY: Boston Celtics Upset atlanta Hawks in Round 1 if Make Playoffs
RELATED PLAYOFF PICKS: Take Boston Celtics Moneyline To Upset atlanta Hawks if Meet in Round 1