It's time to start thinking about playoff seeding for the Celtics
As the NBA playoffs are right around the corner, there are now just 18 games left in the 2017-18' campaign for the Boston Celtics. It seems crazy we've already gotten through so much of the season but as they say, "time flies when you're having fun" and here we are gearing up for another postseason run for the Green.
Despite their disappointing 123-120 loss to the Houston Rockets that they let slip through their fingers in the waning minutes of the game this past Saturday, Brad Stevens' team has looked much better after the All-Star break. Led by a rejuvenated bench with Marcus Smart back, the C's saw three players from the second-unit tally 17+ points (Morris - 21, Monroe - 18, Rozier - 17) and four of them in total including Smart (11 points) scored in the double digits. Those are pretty impressive numbers considering only three of the starters amassed double-digit points (Irving - 18, Tatum - 12, Horford - 11) with just Kyrie scoring 17+.
All while the bench's resurgence should bode well for the Celtics down the stretch, if the playoffs had started today, the team would still be facing a very uphill battle.
Currently the 2-seed in the East, the Green would first square off vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round to get postseason action started.
Although I wouldn't be incredibly worried about the Bucks as they've regressed a lot throughout the season and still haven't established themselves as serious contenders yet, they still wouldn't be any sort-of cakewalk for the team. Sure, the Greek Freak has still had troubles trying to develop a shooting consistency but I don't think anybody on the Celtics wants to have to defend that match-up nightmare.
Regardless of how a series against Milwaukee would go, the main gripe many Boston fans would probably have with the current standings if the postseason started today would be the team we would be slated to face in the second round (if they get there), the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As long as LBJ and the Cavs are sitting in the 3 seed, 2 isn't really where you want to be in the East. https://t.co/6oTmdSNyFB
Any way you spin it, the ideal circumstance for the Celtics would probably not involve playing LeBron James until the Eastern Conference Finals, if at all, in the playoffs. Clearly, the current standings would not result in such circumstance.
Over the past seven years as almost every NBA fan has come to know, LeBron has laid rule over the rest of the Eastern Conference and his team has represented it in the Finals every year during that stretch. It's been a run of dominance that many never saw ending but now believe could have it's end in sight as James hasn't had this poor a roster around him since his previous tenure in Cleveland.
Although I'm sure a lot of people would love to see James' second-tenure in Cleveland end at the hands of Boston much like his first did, I'm not sure anybody is penning the Celtics to overthrow them for the East's crown just yet. One of the main reasons for this is another team which lies north of the border.
The Toronto Raptors still sit on top of the East with a two game lead over the Celtics and not only have they been just as hot this past month as the Green have been over the last week or so, they look ready to claim the Eastern Conference title themselves.
This is the same Toronto team after all that absolutely dismantled the C's just as badly as the Cavs did, albeit in their own building, roughly just a month ago. Any Boston fan would still probably choose the Raptors if they had to pick between their two rivals atop the East but nonetheless it may just be picking one poison over the other.
Nearing season's end, it'll be interesting to see which teams will eventually be slotted to face which other but talk over playoff seeding will heat up a lot the next few weeks. Sure, some say the real season doesn't start until after the regular season, but the games, and which teams will play each other, in the "real season" are determined these last few weeks of the year. These last games usually can, and do, have a strong effect in the way things play out.