The Celtics jumped up to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with their win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Seedings, obviously, will shuffle around quite a bit as the season unfolds, but Jalen Rose likes Boston’s chances of being in that exact spot when the 2019-20 playoffs commence.
Rose explained his reasoning Thursday on ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby.” It’s unclear whether the former swingman truly believes the Celtics are a top-two team in the East, but he believes the makeups of the other best teams in the conference set the stage for Boston to end up with the No. 2 spot.
“So here’s the dynamics we talked about earlier this year, and they’re kind of playing out exactly in the East how I thought they would,” Rose said. “Milwaukee’s going for the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA. They’re going for it. They understand home court in the East and potentially in the Finals could be their ticket to possibly winning it all this year. Philadelphia, their best player is Joel Embiid. We know he’s going to miss a lot of games. So, therefore, I knew they couldn’t have the second-best record in the conference based on that. The Boston Celtics have a young bunch and they’re really good and talented. So they understand the marathon. You got (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown and Marcus Smart and Kemba (Walker), who hasn’t been great as of late, but they’re going to go hard for the regular season. So don’t be surprised if the Celtics maintain and keep the No. 2 seed. I think Philly falls to three.”
Rose makes a good point. In today’s NBA, the final rankings aren’t a true indicator of how the best teams in each conference stack up. If a team feels comfortable in its prospects to handle whatever is thrown its way in the playoffs, it’s not uncommon to see a level of coasting or briefly taking the foot off the gas during the regular season. But for a group like the Celtics, who are loaded with young talent and could tremendously benefit from playing in their own building, they can both afford and benefit from going all-out on a nightly basis.
Boston benefitted from this strategy two seasons ago when it landed the No. 2 seed and came within one game of reaching the NBA Finals.