What seemed to have been lost, the Celtics are now one win away from clinching the #1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. After the way they played the last week, it seemed that we’d be a lock for the #2 seed in the playoffs. But then Cleveland started to play poorly as well; taking L’s to Atlanta (twice) and to the Heat. Lebron and Kyire sat out against the Heat (due to injury) and now Lebron and possibly Kyrie will sit out against the final game against Toronto as well. Again with the #1 seed on the line, the Celtics have to beat the Bucks to clinch the #1 seed; if they lose, their only hope of clinching it is for the Cavaliers to lose to Toronto.
After the Cavaliers steamed rolled us last week, we all thought that the Celtics would just lock up the #2 seed and work from there. But with Lebron playing so many minutes over the span of 3 games, he hurt himself and would rather be healthy for the playoffs; jeopardizing his team on not getting the #1 seed in the playoffs. To the Celtics, this is huge; they have to take that momentum and beat the Bucks tomorrow night. Having home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference is big, especially for the Celtics. If the two teams were to face off against each other in the Eastern Conference Finals and it goes to 7 games (like I predict), then the Celtics would have a huge advantage given the atmosphere of the Garden and its fans.
Sure on paper the Cavaliers are better; but without home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, it would be difficult for Lebron and company. They’ve been having a tough time as is since the All-Star break; having a losing record since then. The Celtics have gone 15-9 since the All-Star break; which is impressive, but not as impressive as other teams. It also doesn’t help that their two best players on the team are “hurt” or “tired out”. Lebron isn’t getting any younger and he puts to much on his plate, Kyrie as well. The same could be said about Isaiah Thomas, but they limit his minutes; plus he’s nothing compared to Lebron who drives to the rim and plays in the paint.
Tomorrow night is important for the Celtics; probably the biggest game for them since last week when they faced the Cavs. The Bucks really have nothing to play for; they’ve already gotten into the playoffs, they’re guaranteed a 6th or lower seed, and realistically they won’t last long in the playoffs either (sorry Bucks fans). If anything the Bucks should just rest players if they think they have a shot in the playoffs. For the Celtics however, they shouldn’t rest players like Thomas or Hordford. If anything they should limit their minutes or let them play less minutes; only come in when their needed. If their worried about injury before the playoffs, I wouldn’t blame Stevens for letting guys like Thomas play less minutes than he normally does. Cleveland is going up against Toronto; whose trying to secure the 3rd seed away from Washington. If anything Toronto will be focused on winning; with or without Lebron and Kyrie in the lineup.
The Celtics can not let this one slip away from them; it’s basically being given to them at this point. But the satisfaction of winning tomorrow and knowing you don’t need Toronto to win is even better. The Celtics need to be perfect tomorrow if they truly want to get that #1 seed; they know it and we know.
The Celtics face the Bucks at 7pm, at the same time Cleveland faces Toronto as well.