The Celtics got a good look at the reeling Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, and Boston now should leave the United Center with one specific, big-picture takeaway.
Simply, Boston should welcome an opportunity to go against Chicago in a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Boston never struggled with Chicago on Wednesday, scoring the first five points of the game and taking a double-digit lead just seven minutes into the contest. It was cruise control from there behind Jaylen Brown (25 points), Al Horford (17 points on 7-for-7, 10 rebounds) and 29 total assists on 43 made baskets. The Bulls were without point guard Lonzo Ball in Wednesday’s contest, as they will be for the remainder of the season.
And while the Celtics have earned the right to not be scared of any opponent given their recent dominance (Boston is 31-9 in its last 40 games), there’s no denying some matchups are better than others. Getting a chance to have home court advantage against the Bulls, who are 1-14 against the top-4 teams in the Eastern Conference this season, is as good as a matchup as the C’s could get.
It’s quite possible, too.
Chicago currently is the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and is destined to remain there with two games left on its regular-season schedule. Boston, now a half-game up on the Bucks for the No. 2 seed, face Milwaukee on the second night of a back-to-back Thursday. Boston has two games left on the regular season and are two games back of the top-seeded Miami Heat, who also have two games remaining as well.
Should the Celtics fall to the Bucks on Thursday and beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, there’s a chance things fall around Boston where they finish as the No. 3 seed and get the No. 6 Bulls. If the Celtics defeat the Bucks and Grizzlies to wrap up their season, they’ll be seeded second at the worst, but then could be granted a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
Again, while the Celtics have earned the right to not be scared of any first-round opponent, one of those matchups is far better than the other.
The end of the NBA regular season is Sunday with the play-in tournament taking place next week.