Home comforts might strengthen the Boston Celtics’ case for inclusion among the NBA’s elite.
The Celtics kept hold of fifth place in ESPN’s latest NBA power rankings but fell to eighth in NBA.com’s installment of the weekly pecking order. The shift in Boston’s position follows a week (Tuesday through Monday) in which it won two out of three games, splitting a home-and-home series with the Brooklyn Nets and beating the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Here’s ESPN NBA writer Bobby Marks’ rationale for ranking the Celtics fifth for the second consecutive week.
“We saw the toughness of Kemba Walker on display last week,” Marks wrote Monday. “After thankfully suffering only a concussion in Denver, Walker would miss just one game (his first since 2017-18) and return to score 39 points in a win over Brooklyn. From a team standpoint, there are two areas of concern for the Celtics: the inability to guard the 3-point line and inconsistent bench production from their rookies. In the two-game miniseries vs. Brooklyn this week, the Nets shot 39.2 percent from 3 and averaged 48.5 attempts. The Celtics’ bench ranks second to last in points per game, and it saw Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards shoot a combined 5-of-25 from the field last week.”
The Celtics slid down NBA.com’s power rankings this week, falling from sixth to eighth place. NBA.com’s John Schuhmann believes Boston might climb again if they maintain their dominance at TD Garden.
“The Celtics remain undefeated at home, thanks to Marcus Smart’s last-minute heroics (two buckets for the lead and a strip of Bogdan Bogdanovic) against Sacramento on Monday and Kemba Walker’s season-high 39 points against Brooklyn on Wednesday,” Schuhmann wrote Monday. “But they had scored less than a point per possession over a stretch of five road games before coming back to beat the Knicks on Sunday. Among 189 players with at least 50 field goal attempts both at home and on the road, Smart (who shot 4-for-19 over the two weekend games in New York before suffering an abdominal injury) has the eighth biggest home-road effective field goal percentage differential (59.1 percent vs. 40.8 percent). The Cs play eight of their next 11 at TD Garden – with visits from the Heat, Nuggets, Sixers and Raptors over that stretch — and they’ll have a rest advantage against both Miami and Denver this week.”
Boston will host the Heat on Wednesday, Nuggets on Friday and Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. A clean sweep of the three-game homestand should prompt ESPN and NBA.com to put some more respect on the Celtics’ name.
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