The picture surrounding the Boston Celtics isn’t necessarily rosy, but things certainly are looking up.
ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry on Wednesday included Boston on his list of teams which have “reasons for optimism” in the heated race for positions in the Eastern Conference portion of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics have won four consecutive games and eight of their last 11 to climb to fifth place in the standings, just one game behind the fourth-place Atlanta Hawks. Goldsberry believes the Celtics surge and the weakness of their remaining regular-season opponents will help Boston avoid a seventh-place finish and the NBA Play-In Tournament.
“The Boston Celtics are going to be a factor here, too,” Goldsberry wrote. “They have won five of their past six, including big wins over the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets. Their net rating has stabilized, and they have the easiest remaining schedule among the six squads fighting for these last three guaranteed spots.”
The upturn in the Celtics’ fortunes coincide with March 25 NBA trade deadline, when they made some big changes, including acquiring Evan Fournier and installing Robert Williams as the starting center. Fournier’s bout with COVID-19 has kept him off the floor for much of his Celtics tenure, and his return might give Boston an added boost in their race for playoff positioning.
Combine that with a host of beatable opponents, and it’s easy to understand why Goldsberry and other NBA observers have grown optimistic about the Celtics.