The Boston Celtics can do more than just whip themselves into shape in the coming weeks.
The Ringer’s Zach Kram detailed Tuesday exactly what the Celtics have to play for when their season resumes in Orlando, Fla. The Celtics’ seeding-round schedule largely is favorable, and Kram believes Boston, which currently is in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, should make the most of that slate by catching the second-place Toronto Raptors, who have a tougher set of matchups.
“… But for all practical purposes, the no. 1 seed is Milwaukee’s: The Bucks held onto the spot in every single simulation, because of both their high baseline level of performance—they won an average of six games in the simulations, best for any team—and the Raptors’ imposing schedule,” Kram wrote.
“The Celtics could take advantage of the latter factor in the fight for the no. 2 seed, which would give them a much easier first-round foe: either Brooklyn or Orlando instead of Indiana, Philadelphia, or Miami. Boston trails Toronto by three games, a meaningful gap with so few to play, but the Celtics’ easy schedule gives them a real chance to catch Toronto. They’re actually half a game closer in the standings to Miami than they are to Toronto, and that situation brings considerable downside: If they fall to the 4-5 matchup, they’d be forced into the Bucks’ side of the bracket. The schedule, however, should help them avoid any such concerns—and make it more likely they peer ahead in the standings as opposed to watching over their shoulder.”
Kram clearly describes the factors that should give the Celtics extra motivation by the time the NBA season resumes July 30. Although the Celtics either will pass or fail their playoff tests on the courts in Central Florida, favorable matchups will go a long way in determining whether the former or latter comes to pass.