The Celtics opened up March with a sound 107-96 win over the Wizards, and according to the oddsmakers over at Heritage Sports, the Green even covered the 9 ½ point impost. It was the first victory after four consecutive losses but even the most ardent C’s supporter knew that it was a game they were supposed to win and not one which would render a collective epiphany. Beating the 26-37 Wizards is akin to completing a chore rather than a moment to cry eureka but it did give Boston a necessary notch in the win column and would hopefully give them a little swagger as they entertained the Houston Rockets two days later.
However, as we learned the Wizards are hardly the Rockets and there is only one James Harden, who dropped 42 points on the beleaguered Celtics en route to Houston’s 115-104 road win at the Garden. What’s even more troubling about this 11-point loss is that the score wasn’t reflective of how lopsided the game truly was. The Rockets roared out to a 22-point lead at the half and pretty much went into cruise control as the Celtics took a half-hearted swipe at attempting to cut the lead. The loss was bad but the harsh reality was even worse. It illustrated the gaping chasm between a legitimate championship contender and a team that is likely to be cannon fodder for just such a team during the postseason.
With that sobering reality, Boston’s regular season slate has just 18 games left as of this writing but there is still time for them to shake free from the funk and move from their current No. 5 slot to No. 3, currently occupied by the Pacers with the 76ers hot on their heels. Let’s check out which teams the Celtics will face in March and predict their wins and losses in each.
The Celts hit the highway and begin a four-game road swing on Tuesday night (3/5) with a date at the Oracle Arena, which is somewhat ironic as they will see their future and realize just how far removed they are from championship greatness against a historically extraordinary team like the Golden State Warriors. The Green will drop another game the following night when they play a much-improved Sacramento Kings squad in the second leg of back-to-back games.
You may recall that the Celtics were, according to Heritage Sports, double-digit home favorites against the LA Lakers and Clippers three weeks ago but not only failed to cover the number but astoundingly lost both games outright. The C’s will get the opportunity to atone for their sins when they will be guests at the Staples Center on March 9th and 11th with games against the Lakers and Clippers respectively. We’ll chalk the Lakers game up to a loss but the Green will salvage some self-respect with a win over the Clippers to end the West Coast swing 1-3.
Starting March 14th, the Celtics will return home and get a little payback on the Sacramento Kings from the week before after being rested for three days. The C’s should then feast on the lowly Atlanta Hawks before getting bounced by the Nuggets to end their three-game home stand. The Philadelphia 76ers are eager to demonstrate that the Celtics can’t keep dominating them the way they have and will prove it on Wednesday, March 20th. The Green will then travel to Charlotte where they should pick up a win over the Hornets.
Right about this time the Celtics are poised to go on a little run as March draws to a close. Home wins over solid teams like San Antonio and Indiana make perfect sense while they pound the Cavs and Nets on the road. That will give their fans hope that maybe this team is turning around after all. But if this season has told us anything, it is that the fans seem to care more than the players which is the reason why Brad Stevens is shaking his head and the Boston Celtics are underachieving. Boston’s projected record in March is 9-6 straight up yet that is probably not enough to do anymore than maintain their fifth playoff spot as they enter April with only five games remaining on their regular season schedule. If the team on the floor does not consistently resemble the team on paper then it could be a very short-lived playoff run once the regular season is done.